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Mahogany, Peru and Poverty: US Firm Fights NRDC’s Eco-Libels

According to the website of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Tahuamanu Rainforest of Peru is a tropical paradise that “until recently, has seen no human impacts beyond those of traditional, sustainable communities.” That is, according to the NRDC, until the Newman Lumber Company of Gulfport, Mississippi, arrived for the sole purpose of destroying “old-growth forests”, its wildlife, and “robbing locals of their traditional livelihoods.”

However, in 2000, if you had asked Santiago Solls, the mayor of Inapari, Peru, he would have told you that, “Since the government annulled our logging contracts, we’re not living, we’re barely surviving.” Inapari is a remote village in the Peruvian area, Madre de Dios, a heavy jungle border with Brazil and Bolivia. If you asked Rosa Hidalgo, a lawyer representing Newman’s partner, Industrial Maderera Tahuamanu, she would have asked, “How can the government say the forest wasn’t authorized for logging when we have a contract issued by them?” Good question.

It turns out that the complaint lodged against Newman and its partner came from its key competitor in the mahogany business and one whose president, some three years ago, was the brother of the director of the Peruvian National Institute for Natural Resources (Inrena). This issue is not about protecting natural resources, but rather who gets to cut down those trees in Madre de Dios. The claim that the rainforests of South America are all disappearing has long since been disproved. In neighboring Brazil, less than five percent of its enormous Amazon rainforests were cut and that was undertaken for agricultural expansion. I keep reminding everyone, people have to eat and live somewhere, even in Peru and Brazil.

NRDC this is not some modest, little group of Green holy rollers. It is an organization that, in 1998, had assets of $55,071,547. Unlike Newman Lumber, it’s tax exempt. If you like ironies, the NRDC was founded in 1970 with money generated by the auto industry, a $400,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. It is perhaps best known for being the source of an enormous and costly apple industry hoax about Alar. The NRDC has designated the Peruvian rainforest a “BioGem” and with the help of “BioGem Defenders”, it floods companies like Newman with thousands of emails protesting their trade in mahogany. Perhaps you might want to protest NRDC by emailing nrdcinfo@nrdc.org?

The NRDC is, however, just one of a huge network of international and national environmental organizations dedicated to shutting down the timber industry no matter where it harvests trees. They go by names like Sustainable Northwest, EcoTrust, the Forests Forever Campaign, the Forest Stewardship Council, Global Green USA, the Rainforest Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Worldwide Fund for Nature, and Greenpeace, to name just a few.

If they succeed, the cost of everything made from wood will increase, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and more catastrophic forest fires will be guaranteed. This isn’t about forests, it’s about inducing as much poverty worldwide as possible.

Founded in 1947, Newman Lumber is a respected member of the timber import industry. The company has about fifty employees and indirectly provides employment to thousands in South American nations through its suppliers. In October 2002, its president, Roy Newman, wrote to the NRDC, demanding that they stop lying about the company on its Internet site. They were and still are accused of clear-cutting, threatening the environment, and the lives of indigenous peoples. A NRDC law firm replied, denying that it was lying, but wanted to “discuss” Newman’s “concerns.” Whether this becomes a lawsuit or not is as yet undecided. It’s a burden to a company like Newman to go up against a multi-million-dollar group of lawyers like the NRDC.

That, however, is the purpose of all such environmental groups working to shut down the timber industry in North and South America, and elsewhere around the world. If they can create enough burdensome obstacles, they win. And you lose.

This effort has been going on a very long time. Does it surprise anyone anymore that the United Nation’s environmental program is the coordinating entity behind all this? Since 1995, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Forests has been meeting for the alleged purpose of curbing “over-logging.” Between 1995 and 1997, it held ten meetings on five continents! Its purpose was to declare ten percent of the world’s forests “protected” against logging by 2000.

In 2001, international environmental groups came together in Belem, Brazil, to create the Forest Certification Council (FSC) as a private, Mexico-based group, intended to establish new restrictions on logging. The FSC is the brainchild of the World Wide Fund for Nature. If it were to become an international clearinghouse for standards affecting the timber industry, it would be an eco-dictatorship and just one more stealthy effort to impose the Green agenda on the world.

Environmental groups like the NRDC have a long history of being less than candid regarding their deeply felt concerns. Wringing donations out of the unwitting is one reason for this. That’s why their website is filled with photos of cute, fuzzy wildlife and beautiful vistas.

The other reason is the core purpose of the environmental movement to attack all forms of free enterprise and undermine the economies of rich nations and poor. Just ask the villagers of Inapari, Peru. If there are any left.