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.
The NRDC 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 is 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 firstname.lastname@example.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
This effort has been going on a very long time. Does it surprise anyone anymore
that the United Nations' 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
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.
Alan Caruba is the author of Warning Signs, published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.