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Activists expose Amazon timber from illegal loggers headed for the European market

Rotterdam – WEBWIRE

A cargo ship carrying Amazon timber, purchased from a sawmill known for trading illegal wood, was today confronted by Greenpeace Netherlands activists as it approached Rotterdam. The timber onboard is destined for the Belgian companies Lemahieu and Omniplex and was sourced from the Brazilian sawmill and exporter Rainbow Trading by the Belgian timber company Leary Forest Products.

Rainbow Trading is one of the subjects of a recent investigation by Greenpeace Brazil on the processing and trading of illegal timber in the Amazon. Activists displayed a banner that reads “Amazon Forest Crime” and demanded an end to the destruction of the Amazon. Greenpeace is calling on EU authorities to enforce the law against illegal timber in Europe (EUTR) by seizing the timber before it is allowed to enter the market unchecked.

“Official documentation used by loggers in the Amazon is not worth the paper it is written on. These documents are being used to launder illegal timber from Brazil. Buying from companies like Rainbow Trading is risky business. Their timber must be seized, not sold.”  said Daniela Montalto, Senior Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace International.

The recent investigation by Greenpeace Brazil Night Terrors [1], exposed a network of sawmills in the heart of the Amazon that were trading illegal timber, through GPS tracking devices and night time surveillance. The investigation documented forest management plans in Brazil that claimed to supply logs entering one sawmill, that were actually being used to launder timber illegally logged elsewhere.

Following the investigation, Odani - a sawmill supplying logs to Rainbow Trading - was raided by authorities in Brazil. Their timber was seized after it was shown their paperwork was used to launder illegal timber. Laundering timber through the use of official documentation is a widespread practice within the Brazilian Amazon timber sector [2].

Under EU law, companies are prohibited from placing illegally harvested timber on the EU market, and they are required to exercise due diligence to ensure that their timber is not illegal [3].

Since Rainbow Trading was exposed, several shipments have been delivered to Europe. Some of these were destined to the same timber buyers, all of which had been previously warned of the high risk of buying illegal timber when purchased from Rainbow Trading [4].

While companies in Belgium continue to buy timber from Rainbow Trading, others in The Netherlands and Sweden have recently announced they would no longer purchase from them [5].

Greenpeace is calling on authorities in Europe to seize the suspicious timber from Rainbow Trading and penalise companies that are not complying with the requirements of the EUTR.



[1] Night Terrors, Greenpeace, October 2014, can be found at

[2] The Amazon’s silent crisis, Greenpeace, May 2014, can be found at:

[3] Companies placing timber in the EU market must mitigate their risk of buying illegal timber to a negligible level (EU Timber Regulation, article 4). Official documentation cannot on its own be trusted when the timber comes from regions where illegal logging timber is prevalent, such as the State of Para in the Brazilian Amazon. A system of due diligence based on this premise is not fit for purpose.

[4] Communications on record between Greenpeace Netherlands and Belgium and EUTR relevant authorities and between Greenpeace Netherlands and Belgium and companies buying timber from Rainbow Trading, including Leary Forest Products BV.

[5] Communications on record between Greenpeace Netherlands and companies Sitho in the Netherlands and between Greenpeace Nordic and Interwood in Sweden, October 2014.


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