The below article about a report by a Liberian NGO finally able to get active, shows the reason why we have to shut down timber imports from Africa. These include ekki (also called azobe or bangossi) used for decking (for instance, used by South Street Seaport's entire pier), railroad track ties (used by New York City Transit and Chicago Transit for their entire subway and light rail lines) and for the floors of shipping containers; African mahogany (khaya and kwila and also sapele is sometimes called that) used for furniture manufacturing by Ethan Allen, Craftique, Henredon and dozens of other large furniture makers, as well as for interiors by architects and designers; okoume, imported as marine grade plywood, used by hundred of boat builders; and numerous species imported as flooring, by, for instance, Shelman and distributed by dozens of distributors across the US, including Golden State Flooring in California, Derr in the Northeast, Wood Flooring International and others.

Rainforest Relief stopped the Philadelphia Bridges Department from using ekki for the decking of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge promenade, over 100,000 board feet, as well as convinced South Street Seaport to no longer use uncertified tropical woods and to try recycled plastic lumber for their next renovation cycle. In the last two years, Chicago Transit has purchased 55,000 recycled plastic lumber railroad ties.

We've highlighted NYC Transit's use of African hardwoods, including their order for 55,000 ties from Liberia, a government that uses terror to suppress and control the people of Liberia.

Liberian 'President', Charles Taylor and his cronies have taken total control of logging and he is funneling vast sums to his personal accounts (his personal wealth is now estimated at 300 million) as well as funneling money to buy guns for his personal army and for distributing to mercenary armies in neighboring countries, like Cote d'Ivoir.

We sure could use some help with other uses of African rainforest wood. If anyone's interested in going after flooring distributors, furniture manufacturers, Chicago Transit (which hasn't yet phased out of African wood), boat builders, architects or designers, let us know.

For the forests,
tim keating

Unique African Forest Wasted by Logging
MONROVIA, Liberia, November 18, 2002 (ENS) - The Liberian rainforest is threatened by destructive logging operations, according to the first Liberian nongovernmental report on the forest industry released by La Fondation pour la Sauvegarde de l'Avenir (SAMFU)in September. This Liberian nongovernmental organization was founded in 1987, but remained dormant during most of the 1990s because of the civil war in Liberia.

The last two blocks of continuous tropical rainforest subsisting in the Upper Guinea forest in West Africa, are to be found in Liberia, the group says. The Upper Guinean forest, recognized as one of the 25 hot spots for world biodiversity, forms a belt of fragmented forests along the West African coast across 10 countries from Guinea to Cameroon.

Between 1997 and 2001, SAMFU reports, the production of roundwood increased over 1,300 percent with enormous impact on indigenous rural communities and the local population, whose means of subsistence came from the land and the forest. "Their cultural and spiritual practices depend so closely on the forest that, with its rapid disappearance, the survival and growth of such communities are seriously threatened," SAMFU says.

The Upper Guinean forest has lost 12.7 percent of its initial area, about 727,900 square kilometres, some 45 percent of it in Liberia, SAMFU estimates. The Liberian forest is inhabited by many native plants and animals found nowhere else. It is a unique ecological niche for some of the world's rarest species.

The Upper Guinean forest contains 551 different species of mammals and half the known species of mammals of the African continent. It is among the regions with the highest degree of priority for the conservation of primates, and a priority zone for conservation of world biodiversity.

"We would like to stress that we do not oppose forestry development," SAMFU states in its report. What the group condemns are the unsustainable practices of the forest industry "and the lack of respect of the laws."

SAMFU concludes that the volume of wood produced, given up or wasted to build bridges, some which are replaced almost every year, is not viable. The "anarchistic" cutting of logs without preliminary suitable inventory, and the wasting of wood, must be discouraged, the group said.

The clearing of hundreds of acres of forest belts, for the construction of forest camps and cargo loading areas is "one of the most harmful practices of the forest industry," SAMFU said.

"The destruction with the bulldozer of several kilometers of dense forest to build short cuts (roads) in order to deliver logs in haste to various ports must also be discouraged."

The research team also reported on the existence of dangerous and unsustainable development practices. The inhabitants of some regions told researchers that the militia of some logging companies had harassed them and attempted to put pressure on them.

These results also showed the need for more exhaustive research on the logging industry. For this reason the Campaign to Save the Liberian Forest and Respect Liberia's Human Rights, was launched to carry out a more detailed investigation on the activities of logging companies in Liberia.

The group urged the Liberian government "to take immediate measures" to settle the environmental questions raised in its report. The Liberian forest agency must be more vigilant about law enforcement and must require payment from the logging companies, SAMFU said.

The report is in French. "Pillage: La destruction silencieuse de la forÍt pluviale du Liberia" is online at:
"The earth and myself are of one mind. The measure of the land and the
measure of our bodies are the same..."
                                   -- Hinmaton Yalatkit, Nez Perce chief

          R   A   I   N   F   O   R   E   S   T        R   E   L   I   E   F

             Sparing  the  World's  Rainforests  from  Consumption

      Rainforest Relief works to protect the world's remaining tropical
   and temperate rainforests by reducing the demand for the products
      and materials of rainforest destruction such as timber and paper,
      industrial agricultural products such as bananas, beef, coffee,
                   chocolate and cut flowers, and mining products
                                 such as oil, gold and aluminum.

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