RAINDROPS - SPECIAL END OF MILLENIUM ISSUE
The Newsletter of Rainforest Relief's Portland Chapter
By Jeff Lockwood(Director, Portland Chapter)
SUCCESSES IN ENDING OLD-GROWTH RAINFOREST WOOD USE
For those of you who are not familiar with Rainforest Relief, we are a tax-exempt, non-profit charitable organization dedicated to sparing the world's temperate and tropical rainforests from consumption. Rainforest Relief is based in Brooklyn, New York, and the west coast chapter is based in Portland. Since the Portland Chapter was formed in 1996, one of our main campaign areas has been working to end the use of unsustainably harvested rainforest woods. To us, this means both woods from old-growth temperate rainforests (for example British Columbia, Chile, and the Pacific Northwest U.S.), and tropical hardwoods (such as mahogany, teak and lauan). We do make an exception for woods that are independently certified as coming from well-managed forests by an organization accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. In the last year, we have been gaining momentum and achieving some major successes in the rainforest wood campaign. Rainforest Relief was instrumental in ensuring that tropical hardwoods such as lauan and ramin were included in the campaign against Home Depot, the world’s largest retailer of old-growth woods. After hundreds of protests by dozens of groups, Home Depot announced in August of 1999 that it would end its sales of wood from "environmentally sensitive areas" by the end of 2002. We are now working to ensure that Home Depot and other retailers that made similar commitments keep their word by monitoring stores.
Hilton—Our Next Victory!
We are proud to announce for the first time in this newsletter that Hilton Hotels Corporation has not only pledged not to repeat its mistake of using rainforest woods in its second Portland hotel, they have verbally committed to following Rainforest Relief’s wood use guidelines in all of their hotel construction, for all of their brands, throughout the world! Although details of how this will be implemented are still being worked out, this portends a huge victory for the rainforests! We are also working to convince other large hotel chains that use rainforest woods, such as Marriot, to obtain similar commitments.
U.S. West Phonebook Campaign:
One of the first large companies we contacted was telephone giant US West. Our Rainforest Wood Campaigner, Gail Evans, discovered through a lengthy investigation that the non-recycled material in the company’s white and yellow pages directories (as much as 60% of the total paper used in millions of directories distributed each year) includes paper originating from the old-growth rainforests of coastal British Columbia.
We published a guest editorial in The Oregonian during book distribution last fall, criticizng the company and asking people to cancel their phone books. The story generated quite a bit of interest in the community and caught the attention of U.S. West. This campaign is just beginning; we are now looking for allies in other organizations that work on B.C. issues. To cancel your U.S. West phone books, call 1-800-422-8793. It’s also a good idea to call about reducing the number of books sent to your office.
Companies Take Rainforest Timber Safe™ Pledge:
We are also happy to announce that several local companies have taken our pledge to avoid uncertified rainforest wood use and sales. Environmental Building Supplies (503-222-3881), Sera Architects, Interiors and Planning (503-445-7372), Rock Soft Futon (503-249-7195), and Holly Hill Construction (503-554-9006) have all made this important commitment. We urge you to favor these businesses, and thank them for helping to save the world’s rainforests! Please send us an email if you know of a business that might be interested.
City of Portland Green Building Guidelines:
We convinced City of Portland to include language to avoid tropical and old-growth woods in its "Green Building Guidelines" that will apply to all construction projects on city-owned property. We also wrote the wood contract specifications for a City boardwalk using independently certified tropical hardwood.
Rainforest Relief also worked with the City of Portland Parks and Recreation Department to ensure that only independently certified ipê (ee-PAY) wood will be used for a boardwalk planned for the North Park Blocks. We convinced the city’s architectural consultant to avoid uncertified ipê being unscrupulously marketed by Timber Holdings Limited. Uncertified ipê (also known as lapacho or by the brand name pau lope), is being ripped unsustainably from the natural rainforests and dry tropical forests of Brazil and Bolivia. Wood importers and dealers such as Timber Holdings claim that tropical woods like ipê and mahogany are sustainably harvested, that they come from "reputable mills", and they are not listed as "endangered." What they won't tell you that 80% of logging in Brazil is illegal, according to the Brazilian intelligence service, and admitted by the head of the Brazilian environment agency. The only real assurance that wood products are coming from well-managed forests and not damaging local communities is given by independent certification under the accreditation of the Forest Stewardship Council.
WORK CONTINUES ON ECUADOR OIL
Rainforest Relief is the lead U.S. organization on the boycott of Texaco Corporation. For 20 years, Texaco Inc. pumped oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, one of the Earth's gems of biodiversity, and home to Quichua, Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Shuar, and Huaorani indigenous peoples. After extracting more than a billion barrels of crude, Texaco washed its hands and pulled out of Ecuador in 1992, leaving behind a colossal mess of cleared rainforest, toxic waste pits, oil spills, and poisoned communities.
Rainforest Relief submitted over 1,200 signatures on a petition demanding that Texaco clean up its mess to the company at its 1999 shareholders meeting. We continue tocollect hundreds of signatures on this petition. The petition also was included in an action alert sent out by The Nation magazine. Environmental author and attorney Judith Kimerling has told us that the communities in the affected area are encouraged that we have helped keep this issue alive with the petitions. The billion dollar lawsuit on Texaco’s pollution, brought by residents of the affected areas, still is working its way through U.S. courts. Rainforest Relief also is circulating a petition promoting a boycott of Chase Manhattan Bank, because the company is loaning money for the construction of a heavy oil pipeline in Ecuador's rainforest. The project to be served by this pipeline is located in the heart of Yasuní National Park, which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and which is also part of the traditional territory of the Huaorani people. The whole world has expressed its opposition to the exploitation of these oil fields, due to their location in one of the most fragile and diverse rainforests on Earth. What You Can Do For Texaco—Boycott Texaco products. If you have a credit card, cut it up and send it to the below address. Write or fax and demand that Texaco clean up in Ecuador:
Mr. Peter Bijur, CEO,
2000 Westchester Ave.,
White Plains, NY 10650.
Fax: (914) 253-7753.
For Chase Manhattan—Close any credit card or account with a letter to the below address. Write and demand that Chase Manhattan cease funding the new heavy oil pipeline in Ecuador:
William B. Harrison
President and CEOChase Manhattan Bank
270 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-2070
You can also help by circulating the petitions at school, the office, or among friends. The Texaco petion can be downloaded and printed from the Rainforest Relief website:
More information about Texaco's activities in Ecuador is available at:http://www.enviroweb.org/rainrelief/newsnotes/texaco.htm
Rainforest Relief is always seeking people willing to help out by making a phone call, stuffing an envelope, painting a banner, organizing speakers, etc If can help out or need more information, please email us or call (503) 236-3031.
We want to thank SpiritOne Internet Services, owned byformer Tropical Forests Forever board member David Wolfe, for providing reliable, affordable internet access to the Portland Chapter. Please call SpiritOne at (503)240-8200, or visit their web site www.SpiritOne.com
As you can see, we're doing effective, unique and much-needed work. We need to work toward taking a national approach rather than project by project. To do this, we need funds. Future projects include going after Broadway set construction, futon frame importers, municipal designers and architects, and truck body companies. Also, we are in discussions to design a banana campaign that will generate demand for a shade-grown organic banana. We are designing a killer website that will highlight our campaigns and educate on the demand-side of rainforest destruction.
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