Climbers scale 40-foot flagpoles in City Hall Park and drop banner demanding an end to NYC’s use of tropical rainforest wood.

City Hall Banner Hang - NYC - Earth Week 2010 - photo by Christoph Gielen

April 21, 2010: During lunch hour in New York City, two climbers scaled the 40-foot flagpoles at the southern entrance of City Hall Park to hang a 150-square-foot banner reading, “If Bloomberg Is So Green, Why Is NYC America’s #1 Consumer Of Rainforest Wood?”

** Coverage includes: Daily News , Downtown & The Indypendent **
** For high-resolution photos of this action, please see our Flickr page. **
** Also, check out the following youtube videos:  #1#2#3 **

“It’s the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and it’s simply unacceptable that the City is still using rainforest wood for public infrastructure,” said Tim Doody, NYC Campaign Coordinator for Rainforest Relief and climber on the west flagpole. “We’re in front of Mayor Bloomberg’s office window and we hope our message is large enough for him to see it.”

This action has been organized by Rainforest Relief and the New York Climate Action Group (NYCAG).

Sites where the City has installed (or is currently installing) tropical timber include the decking of the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Battery Park, Fulton Ferry Terminal and Empire-Fulton State Park, fenderings and pilings at the Staten Island Ferry terminals, 12 ½ miles of boardwalk, Hudson River Park, Washington Square Park, and the High Line, tens of thousands of park benches throughout the city, and hundreds of miles of subway track ties.

The benches at City Hall Park itself are made with wood industrially logged from old growth from the forests of the Amazon. That was done by the previous administration, but under Bloomberg’s watch more rainforest wood is being laid down even today, during Earth Week. Some of these locations include Hudson River Park, the Coney Island boardwalk, Washington Square Park, and possibly the High Line.

After intensive pressure by Rainforest Relief over the years, joined in 2007 by the NYCAG, the City finally acknowledged the problem. In 2008, at the United Nations, the Mayor announced his “Tropical Hardwood Reduction Plan,” which promised to cut the City’s use of tropical hardwoods 60% by 2020. According to many scientists, at current rates of destruction most of the world’s rainforests will be gone by then.

“The Mayor’s plan is too little, too late,” said Tim Keating, Executive Director of Rainforest Relief and climber on the east flagpole, “and it seriously underestimates the City’s ongoing and future use of tropical hardwoods. Mayor Bloomberg thinks we need to use rainforest wood for twenty more years. But our plan will get NYC off tropical hardwoods in two years.”

According to the UN, an area of rainforest the size of Manhattan is destroyed every 3 hours.

Tim Doody, Campaign Coordinator for Rainforest Relief; photo by James Wagner

“Tropical deforestation is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all planes, trains, automobiles and ships combined,” points out J.K. Canepa, co-founder of NYCAG. “We’d love for Mayor Bloomberg to use the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day to seriously consider Rainforest Relief’s plan to eliminate the city’s use of tropical hardwoods within two years.”

The two climbers were highly trained to perform this safe, non-violent action. They were arrested and jailed overnight and now face charges that include obstruction of government administration, disorderly conduct and illegal posting of a sign.

For more photos of this action, please see the Flickr page.

Banner Announcing NYC's failure to protect rainforests - photo by Andrew Stern