Last Minute Call to Stop the Chainsaws

Marked tree in the rainforestSo far, 4,000 gian rainforest trees have been marked for chainsaws.

Since the middle of this year, the timber company Maderas del Darién – Pizano S.A. has been marking trees inside the rainforest along the River Atrato. At least 4,000 giant trees are to be felled. Rivers and streams across the region are being dammed, dredged and straightened in order to transport the logs by water. Heavy machinery is compacting and ploughing up the soil and destroying precious ecosystems.

The situation in the Chocó region has been extremely tense for decades. The military, armed paramilitary groups and security companies working for timber, palm oil, banana and mining companies are violently oppressing the population. Many have been evicted from their villagers or have been forced to flee. They are now living inside humanitarian protection zones which have been set up, while companies are plundering their land.

„The timber company Maderas del Darién - Pizano S.A. is destroying the rainforest in the belief that they will never be held accountable“, according to villagers from Santa Rosa del Limón and Vigía de Curbaradó. “Government functionaries and administrators are their accomplices“.

Maderas del Darién belongs to the timber corporation Pizano S.A. Their owner, billionaire Luis Carlos Sarmiento, is Colombia’s richest man. The rainforests of the Chocó are especially biodiverse. They contain on average 400 species of trees and 700 species of vertebrates per hectare, a global record. Many animals and plants are endemic, i.e. not found anywhere else on earth.

Further information

Villagers from the River Atrato area in Colombia’s Chocó region want to stop diggers and chainsaws and are calling for international solidarity. Please take part in our protest alert and write to the Colombian government.

In September this year, The UN Environment Programme and the international police organisation Interpol published their latest report about „Illegal Logging, Tax Fraud and Laundering in Tropical Forests“. An international timber mafia is responsible for up to 90% of illegal logging of rainforests. Corrupt politicians, civil servants and the military in different countries are deeply involved in the plunder of rainforests. Interpol lists 30 different means by which globally organised criminals bring illegal timber onto the market and launder their profits, which amount to 25-75 billion Euros a year.

The Colombian timber company Pizano S.A. portrays itself as a green company, citing their FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate which is awarded for supposedly ‚sustainable forest management‘. The timber industry uses such labels to greenwash its image and mislead customers.

Video and reportage about the planned illegal loggings in the Chocó.

David Vollrath from Rainforest Rescue hands over the signatures to the diplomatic secretaryHandover of the signatures in the Colombian embassy

Jan 24, 2013

Colombia: Stop the chainsaws

On January 17, 2013, Rainforest Rescue had an appointment at the Colombian Embassy in Berlin. We presented senior embassy staff a petition with 72,877 signatures protesting the impending illegal clearance of 4,000 rainforest trees in Colombia’s Atrato region.

The community of Santa Rosa de El Limón in Colombia’s Atrato region is still struggling to protect its forest against the chainsaws of the transnational Maderas del Darién – Pizano S.A. timber group. Rainforest Rescue supported the community’s campaign with an online petition and public relations work. On January 17, 2013, we had an appointment with diplomatic secretary for environmental affairs Karol Daza Bula at the Colombian Embassy in Berlin, and presented her the petition with 72,877 signatures.

In the meeting, we called on the embassy to work for the protection of the people of Santa Rosa de El Limón and their rainforest. The U.S. timber group has no legal basis for its plan to fell 4,000 trees on community property. Santa Rosa de El Limón has held a collective land title – and therefore the right to independent administration of its territory – since 2000. The community forest is also protected by law. Business projects may only be realized on the land with the approval of the municipality, and Santa Rosa de El Limón is vehemently opposed to the clearing plans of Maderas del Darién.

Rainforest Rescue called on the Colombian ambassador to advocate the rights of the affected communities and demand that his government put an end to the illicit timber trade in Atrato. We also called for the Colombian justice system to look into the case and file charges against Maderas del Darién senior executives. 

We were assured that the embassy would forward our petition to the Colombian government authorities, and that we would be informed of action taken by the government in the matter.  

We would like to thank everyone who supported the online petition.