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Outcome

The alert has lead to initial success. NYC Parks Department Ends the Use of Tropical Hardwoods for Benches. The campaign continues to have NYC end the use of ancient rainforest timbers as a keystone climate mitigation strategy, and have this enshrined in law and procurement policy.

Action Alert: Mayor Bloomberg: We Love New York, But Hate Your Government's Rainforest Destruction!

New York City is one of the biggest consumers of ancient rainforest timbers; and their use of tropical hardwoods must end to protect global climate, ecosystems and biodiversity

By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet - November 2, 2007

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Additional Background

UPDATE: Mayor Bloomberg announced in his speech at the Bali climate conference that his government, in regard to ancient rainforest timbers, is going to come up "within the next 60 days, with a plan for reducing our reliance on such hardwoods". And the NYC Parks Department has announced it will no longer use rainforest woods in park benches. These announcements were almost certainly the result of this network's email protests in support of 13 years of effective local organizing. The job now is to get and end to the use of ancient rainforest timbers implemented within law and regulations.

Specifically the mayor said: "Mitigating climate change won't be easy. It will require all of us to change our ways. For example, an important topic in Bali this week is deforestation-a serious problem that is the main component of Indonesia's global warming footprint... 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. The physical properties of these hardwoods make them ideal for such uses. So finding adequate alternatives will be difficult. But we must try. And I want you to know that 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."


New York City's (NYC) Department of Parks and Recreation is one of America's largest destroyers of rainforests, reports New York based Rainforest Relief. Parks and other NYC and state agencies including the Department of Transportation (DOT) and NYC Transit use hundreds of thousands of board feet of tropical hardwoods per year. New York City's use of ancient forest timbers comes at great expense to the Earth's biodiversity, ecosystems, climate and prospects for achieving global ecological sustainability.

Parks uses ipê logged from the Brazilian Amazon for its 10 miles of coastal boardwalks (including Coney Island) and for tens of thousands of park benches. DOT uses greenheart, logged from the rainforests of Guyana for the decking of the Brooklyn Bridge and the wooden terminals of the Staten Island Ferry. Transit uses ekki logged from the rainforests of West Africa for subway track ties for miles of NYC subways.

Despite dire warnings, the Amazon and other rainforests continue to be industrially logged to meet growing worldwide demand for hardwoods. "In light of the contribution that deforestation plays in climate change and the 6th Mass Extinction the Earth has ever known, and the connection between logging for export and rainforest destruction, we are sending a message to the New York City government that the use of tropical hardwoods for boardwalks, benches, bridges and ferry terminals must stop now," said Tim Keating, Executive Director of Rainforest Relief.

Two decades of environmental advocacy have shown significant gains elsewhere: the park benches in Los Angeles are made from locally sourced wood, and the subway ties under Chicago's "L" train from recycled plastic lumber. Cost-effective, ancient forest free, and ecologically preferable alternatives to the use of rainforest hardwoods exist. Yet despite rampant illegality, climate change and mass extinction; NYC Mayor Bloomberg's administration persists in procuring wood from tropical rainforests, even as he claims the mantle of environmental leadership.

There is no such thing as ecologically sustainable first time industrial logging of primary and old-growth forests, and keeping large ancient forest intact is a requirement to address climate change, maintain global biodiversity and ecosystems, and achieve global ecological sustainability. Critically, the campaign avoids greenwashing support for "sustainable" and "certified" rainforest timbers, knowing that global ecological sustainability depends upon these timbers staying in ancient forest canopies rather than NYC park benches and boardwalks.

Please support Rainforest Relief's and NY Climate Action Group's campaign demanding that Mayor Bloomberg end NYC's use of tropical hardwoods. In order to protect ancient forests, the people who live there, and global climate; NYC purchases of timbers derived from ancient forests must be stopped and an important precedent set that all industrial scaled ancient forest logging must end forever.


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NYC park bench
Ancient rainforest logs belong in intact rainforest canopies and ecosystems, not NYC park benches and boardwalks. Photo by Tim Keating/Rainforest Relief  (link)

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