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Sender: o-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 97 00:38:53 CST
From: Glen <grbarry@students.wisc.edu>
Subject: Malaysian Loggers in Amazon
Organization: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Article: 6542

Malaysian Loggers in the Amazon

From Ecological Enterprises, 25 February 1997

Following is Rainforest Action Network's March Action Alert. It was written by me, and is a condensed version of recent materials I have been supplying which document the recent major increase in Asian industrial logging interests in the Amazon. Given these companies track records, there is every reason to expect even greater increases in Amazonian deforestation. Please take the time to write the Brazilian Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry which is investigating the activities of these companies. Make a stand for the Amazon.
Glen Barry

Rainforest Action Network, Action Alert 127

After laying waste to the rainforests of Asia and the Pacific islands, giant Malaysian logging companies are setting their sights on the Amazon. This past year, some of Southeast Asia's biggest forestry conglomerates moved into Brazil, buying controlling interests in area logging companies, and purchasing rights to cut down vast rainforest territories for as little as $3 U.S. dollars an acre. In the last few months of 1996 these companies quadrupled their South American interests, and now threaten fifteen per cent of the Amazon with immediate logging. According to The Wall Street Journal, up to 30- million acres are at stake. Major players include the WTK Group, Samling, Mingo, and Rimbunan Hijau.

Brazilian indigenous rights organizations and international environmental groups are gearing up for a desperate battle. The same timber companies in Sarawak, Malaysia, worked with such rapacious speed that they devastated the region's forests within a decade, displacing traditional peoples and leaving the landscape marred with silted rivers and eroded soil. Rimbunan Hijau tripled the log exports from Papua New Guinea after starting operations there in 1991, causing extensive environmental damage and social upheaval among the indigenous communities. Given Brazil's difficulty in enforcing forest laws, these companies will almost certainly follow a similar course of action in the Amazon.

In a recent survey by Brazil's federal environmental agency (IBAMA), not one of the thirty-four logging sites it visited in the lush rainforest state of Para met minimum international standards. Moreover, since Brazil employs only eighty inspectors for a rainforest region the size of Western Europe, illegal logging is common. An IBAMA raid last year seized over 60,000 cubic feet of illegally-cut timber floating down the Purus River towards waiting sawmills.

IBAMA chief Eduardo Martins maintains: Multi-million dollar investments in the Amazonian logging industry would spell disaster - we don't want that kind of investment. Even before the onslaught of Malaysian logging companies, annual deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon increased from about 2.8 million acres in 1991 to nearly 3.8 million acres in 1994. In the commercial center of Manaus alone, the number of timber mills increased from ten to nearly one- hundred in just five years.

Concerned about the irreversible harm that Sarawak-style logging will do to the country, Brazil's Federal Government convened a congressional commission to monitor and investigate the activities of the Asian logging companies operating in the Amazon. However, it is not enough for Rimbunan Hijau and the others merely to follow forestry laws. The excessive scale of these operations could extinguish 30- million acres of the ancient Amazon rainforest, along with its vast array of plant and animal life - forever.


Show your concern and support by writing to Congressman Gilney Viana, coordinator of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry. Here's a sample letter:

E-mail to: <cfac@brnet.com.br>

Dear Representative Gilney Viana,

I am writing to express my concern about Malaysian logging companies setting operations in the Brazilian Amazon. These companies have a record of destructive logging practices in Southeast Asia. Sarawak's forests in Malaysia, for instance, were clearcut within only a decade, displacing traditional peoples and devastating the environment.

I applaud your efforts to investigate and monitor the activities of Asian logging companies in Brazil. The Commission has a very important mission - not allowing these companies to destroy the Amazon. Don't let Brazil become another Sarawak.

By Glen Barry of Ecological Enterprises, more information at http://forests.org/