Seven Brazilian Cities Pledge Not to Buy Illegally Logged Wood

SAO PAULO, Brazil, November 16, 2005 (ENS) - The seven municipal administrations that constitute the Greater ABC region of metropolitan São Paulo, Brazil's largest city, have signed a letter of commitment not to purchase illegally logged wood products. The ABC region is the country's third largest consumer market for timber.

In the document, the cities pledge to pass laws to limit timber consumption to sources that adopt sustainable management practices, especially if the timber comes from the Amazon rainforest, and to prohibit the purchase and use of illegal wood in bidding processes for public works.


Jatoba, a Brazilian hardwood, is used as flooring in a São Paulo home. (Photo courtesy Designer's Touch)
The letter of agreement is part of the Cities Friends of the Amazon program sponsored by the nongovernmental organization Greenpeace.

"We are shutting the doors to the most important consumer market, which is the city of São Paulo. We are already negotiating with Rio de Janeiro and shutting the doors to the ABC," the coordinator of the Cities Friends of the Amazon program, Adriana Imparato, said in an interview with the official state news agency Agência Brasil.

The letter of committment was signed by the mayors of Santo André, São Bernardo do Campo, São Caetano, Diadema, Rio Grande da Serra, Mauá, and Ribeirão Pires.

The ceremony was held on Saturday in the auditorium of the Greater ABC Inter-municipal Consortium, in Santo André, one of the seven signatory municipal administrations.


Mayors of the Greater ABC region paint a symbolic line on a commemorative design at the site where they signed the agreement to avoid purchasing illegally logged timber. (Photo by Rodrigo Balela courtesy Greenpeace Brazil)
Mauá Mayor Diniz Lopes Dos Santos, and the representatives of the city halls of Brook Pires and Diadema have signed decrees creating work groups that will be responsible for implementation of the program in these cities. "The city of Mauá is taking its role as friend of the Amazôn very seriously. We will take this message to the all our schools, entrepreneurs and traders, to ensure the origin of the wood used in our city," said the mayor of Mauá.

Saint Andres Mayor Avamileno João said, "I spent 15 days in Pará, in the Amazon, and visited some very clean forest streams. This needs to be preserved. We will make laws that require the licensed contractors to demand a certified wood certificate."

After the signature, the representatives of the city halls joined a group of activists and graffiti artists who painted the symbol of the program with the name of the campaign, "The Greater ABC sets an example: 7 Cities Friends of the Amazon," on a local sidewalk alongside the headquarters of the Consortium.

"Today is a great day for the Amazon. The ABC is the third biggest consuming market of the country, being behind only of São Paulo and Rio De Janeiro," said Imparato. "The city halls will start to demand documents that prove the legal origin of the wood and, in this way, they will be contributing in a concrete way to stopping the criminal clearing of the forest."


Activists and city officials admire the completed sign commemorating the Cities Friends of the Amazon agreement. (Photo by Rodrigo Balela courtesy Greenpeace Brazil)
Greenpeace and the local environmental group ONG Action Triangle have spent the past two months collaborating on the presentation of events in university and public squares to publicize the Cities Friends of the Amazon program.

They held meetings with the city hall representatives, and the subject was discussed at the Intermunicipal Trust of the Great ABC forum that includes the mayors of the seven cities.

On October 17, the Trust decided that each of the seven cities would joint the program. Moreover, all the unions in the Greater ABC region have voted to support the Cities Friends of the Amazon program.

"The illegal extration of wood survives because a market exists that feeds it. At least here in the ABC, we will stop financing the destruction of the forest with the public money," said Fabrício France, coordinator of the ONG Action Triangle, a local environmental group.

"However, this position of responsible consumption does not have to be restricted to the city halls," said France. "The society also needs to today adopt the sustainable consumption of wood and the unions will participate in this work."