Funeral Procession for Dead Rainforests Exposes Mayor’s Fake Tropical Timber Plan

Greenwashing the UN

CONTACT: rainforestsny at gmail dot com

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NBC: “Funeral for Dead Wood” * Planet Green: “NYC #1 Buyer of Trop Hardwood in US” * Ballot Box: “Bloomberg’s Eco Hypocrisy”

NEW YORK CITY — October 29, 2009. Today, Green Party mayoral candidate Reverend Billy led eco-activists in a funeral procession through Washington Square Park to mourn rainforests killed on Mayor Bloomberg’s watch.

Reverend Billy was joined by Rainforest Relief (RR), the lead group opposing US imports of tropical hardwoods, and New

York Climate Action Group (NYCAG), a grassroots group working to reduce the City’s impact on climate change.


According to RR, New York City is the single largest consumer of tropical hardwoods in North America. This claim was corroborated by the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability: “It is possible, as some have alleged that NYC is one of the leading consumers of tropical hardwoods in the nation.”

Tropical hardwoods used for City infrastructure include 12 miles of boardwalks; tens of thousands of benches; the decking of the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Fulton Ferry Terminal and Empire-Fulton State Park; hundreds of miles of subway track ties; and the fendering and thousands of pilings in the Staten Island Ferry terminals.

DSC09483In December, 2007, Bloomberg called for a plan to reduce the City’s use of these woods at the climate talks in Bali,Indonesia. In a speech at the UN the following February, he announced the “Tropical Hardwood Reduction Plan,” which promised to cut the City’s use of tropical hardwood by 60% before 2020.

“The Mayor’s Plan is too little, too late,” said Tim Keating, Rainforest Relief’s Executive Director. “In fact, it’s not even accurate. With all the new parks and marine waste transfer stations, the City is poised to double its consumption of tropical hardwoods over the next three years.”

DSC_0077_2Currently under renovation, Washington Square Park is being refurbished with approximately 400 new benches made with a wood called ipê. Ipê trees are scattered at an average of 1 or 2 trees per acre throughout the Amazon. Loggers typically bulldoze a network roads and trails to access these high-value trees. According to one study, on average, 28 other trees are killed to cut one ipê tree.

DSC09490“It’s been two years since the Mayor promised to curb NYC’s addiction to rainforest wood,” said Tim Doody, RR’s New York City campaign coordinator, as he stood near the fountain at Washington Square Park. “Look around this park! Look at all the other newly renovated parks in the City–at the Coney Island boardwalk, the High Line, the fifty blocks of Hudson River Park. Almost every single piece of wood you see has been gutted from the Amazon.” He pointed to a fence sealing off almost half of the park. “And right behind this chain link fence, the Mayor’s getting ready to do it again.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that deforestation is responsible for 25–30% of human-caused greenhouse gases.

“You can’t call yourself the Green Mayor while you’re playing three-card Monte with the world’s climate,” said JK Canepa, co-founder of NYCAG.

Other environmentally preferable alternatives are readily available. Recycled plastic lumber will last 5 times longer than ipê. Native black locust lumber will last far longer than almost any tropical hardwood.


DSC_0095Background materials available upon request:
For a summary of Rainforest Relief’s response to NYC’s Tropical Hardwood Reduction Plan, email info@rainforestrelief.org.
“Deep Impact: An Estimate of Tropical Rainforest Acres Impacted for a Board Foot of Imported Ipê”; Long-term cost analysis of recycled plastic lumber vs. ipê; Reports on the extreme durability of black locust, a domestic hardwood; Article: “Deforestation, the Hidden Cause of Global Warming”; Article: “New York City Is One of the Biggest Destroyers of the Amazon Rainforest”