Rainforest Protection Issues

« Murder in Malaysia's Rainforest | Main | Woodlark Rainforests Spared for Now from Clearing for Oil Palm »

Share on Facebook |

January 8, 2008

NYC Parks Department Ends the Use of Tropical Hardwoods for Benches

NYC rainforest park benchEcological Internet's campaign in support of long-standing local efforts to end the use of ancient rainforest timbers by government in New York City is enjoying initial success. Mayor Bloomberg has announced a review of NYC policy, and the Park Department will no longer use endangered woods in NYC park benches. We must ensure the review ends the use of all ancient rainforest timbers, the Parks decision is expanded, and an end to the use of ancient rainforest timbers is enshrined in law and procurement policy. Please send the updated alert. This progress is monumental, it must be brought to completion, and together we are doing it! g.b.



January 8, 2008

Tim Keating, 917-543-4064, Rainforest Relief
Dr. Glen Barry, 920-776-1075, Ecological Internet
JK Canepa, 917/ 648-4514, NYCAG

NYC Parks Department Ends the Use of Tropical Hardwoods for Benches

Recent Actions by Environmental Groups Bring Progress in 13-Year Campaign

NEW YORK CITY — January 8, 2008. In a meeting with representatives of environmental groups Rainforest Relief and New York Climate Action Group, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe unveiled a plan to phase out the use of hardwoods logged from the rainforests of the Amazon, which the agency uses for benches, boardwalks and the decking of bridges in the thousands of parks and areas overseen by the department. Celia Peterson, director of the Specification Office of NYC Parks, stated that as of last month, Parks will no longer specify tropical hardwoods for benches.

The issue was recognized by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his speech last month in Bali during the climate talks:

“New York, like many cities, uses tropical hardwoods-in our case, for our extensive beach boardwalks and also for the walkway on the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge .. . . I've asked my Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to work with the relevant City agencies, and present me, within the next 60 days, with a plan for reducing our reliance on such hardwoods.”

“This is an exciting announcement and the most progress we’ve seen on this issue in a decade,” said Tim Keating, Director of Rainforest Relief. “It’s been a long, long road to get to this point and we thank Parks Commissioner Benepe and other Parks staff who have worked to find suitable alternatives to rainforest hardwoods. We call on other city and state agencies to end their use of these destructive woods as well.”

Rainforest Relief, founded in New Jersey in 1989, began a campaign to eliminate the use of rainforest woods by the city in 1995 after recognizing tropical hardwoods at the Coney Island boardwalk in 1994. Recently, the group was joined by a new hard-hitting grassroots organization, New York Climate Action Group, which campaigns to end the city’s use of tropical hardwoods because deforestation, mostly in the tropics, contributes an estimated 25 – 30% of human-caused greenhouse gases.

Logging for exported wood is the primary factor leading to tropical deforestation, as roads are first bulldozed by loggers, in their pursuit of high-value species for export. This allows access to farmers and others who then completely clear those devastated forests.

“People worldwide recognize with increasing urgency the need to address climate change. Economists and environmentalists agree that ending deforestation is a highly cost-effective means to do so. We hope that Mayor Bloomberg will institute a policy ending the use of all woods from old growth forests”, said JK Canepa, a founding member of NYCAG.

In November, Ecological Internet, founded by Dr. Glen Barry, sent an action alert about the issue to a mailing list of over 50,000. The alert generated approximately 200,000 protest emails from 68 countries to state and city staff and officials in the month prior to Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement.

"Maintaining large and intact primary and old-growth forests free from industrial logging is a requirement to address climate change, biodiversity loss and to achieve global ecological sustainability," explains Dr. Barry. "Ancient rainforest logs belong in intact rainforest canopies and ecosystems, not NYC park benches and boardwalks.



Dear Dr. Glen Barry,

Your work is vital. Thanks for all you are doing.

Our generation of elders appears to be doing a woefully inadequate job of helping our children understand that the current, relentless, business-as-usual effort to grow the global economy, given the gigantic scale and anticipated growth rate of the economic globalization, could soon become patently unsustainable on a small, finite planet with the size and make-up of Earth.

Hopefully, our children will somehow find the political will and the courage, despite our poor examples, to restructure and regulate the global economy so that it functions in a sustainable way.

The human community includes more than 6.6 billion people now. By 2050, the UN Population Division projects a world population of over 9 billion people. That is an approximately 40% increase in absolute global human population numbers in the next 42 years. Can we reasonably and sensibly expect that Earth can sustain so many billions of people? What scientific evidence, sound reasoning or common sense explanation can provide a foundation for expanding unbridled economic globalization even one more day, for increasing unrestrained per capita consumption beyond its present conspicuous level for one more week, and for condoning the projected addition of 70 to 80 million members of the human community in this year alone?



Steve Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

Congratualations! Thanks for the feedback.

Thank you. Good stuff.

Mike Nolan

Thanks. We appreciate your actions.

Glen, Good show! Rick

Does anybody know about this site ( http://www.earthlab.com ) ? I have seen other environmental sites with carbon calculators like yahoo and tree huggers, but I am wondering what the deal with earthlab.com is? I saw they also published a list last month of the top ten greenest cities ( http://www.efficientenergy.org/Top-Ten-Green-Cities-in-the-United-States ). Does anyone know if this site is better than the others? Fill me in!

I took their carbon foot print test and it was pretty interesting, they said that I put out 4.5 tons of carbon, does anyone know about any other tests?

Dear Friends,

If the rich and famous people among us do not start expressing their concern for something other than their riches and privileges soon, then approaching global challenges, to be found in the offing, could serve the purpose of helping them refocus their attention and change their behavior.

There can be no functioning manmade global economy without adequate natural resources and global ecosystem services that only the Earth can provide. To believe that business-as-usual economic globalization can continue to expand much longer, let alone endlessly, in our relatively small, evidently finite and noticeably frangible planetary home is magical and wishful thinking of the first order. Such thinking is an embarrassment to anyone who values good science, sound reasoning and common sense.

The failure of the wealthy and politically powerful people in my not-so-great generation of elders to respond ably to the requirements of practical reality will soon be seen by our children as the worst example of a gross dereliction of duty in human history.



Steve Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

Dear Steve,
Your many comments on the blog are interesting and salient, yet you are repeating yourself. I agree that it would be interesting to hear more on how to address population through policy. My fear is that your repetitive posting of rather long comments is dissuading rather than encouraging discussion. For now I will continue to approve your comments, but please listen to this respectful feedback.
Glen da moderator


Dear Glen Barry:

Thank you for the update. And Happy New year.

This is excellent news.

However, on the heels of that emergency, a new
emergency involving tropical forests is brewing in the
province of Riau, Sumatra: 'EYES on the FOREST'
website covers it quite well (1-8-08). Hundreds of
thousands of hectares of primary lowland rain forest
adjacent to the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (and
originally promised by the government to be conserved
as a part of the park) are now in the beginning
stages of being cleared by Asia Pulp and Paper for
pulp plantations (20,000 ha have so far been
destroyed, the remainder is set to continue to be
destroyed if intervention is not decisive and swift).
At risk are vital populations of Sumatran tigers,
Asian elephants, Bornean clouded leopards, Malayan
tapirs, forest hornbills and many others along with
thousands of plant species, many of themendemic to the
Bukit Tigapuluh range. Much of the area is relatively
unexplored and is probably far more biodiverse than
yet believed. There are also orang asli tribespeople
inhabiting the area so there is a human rights element
involved as well.

Please see if there is something Forests.org can do onthis. I do not care to see Sumatra lose any more of
its primary forests at this point.


Louis McCarten



M A Clinch
Darwin, Australia