Around thirty environmentalists representing active organisations from Europe, Africa, Australia, Japan and the USA – who are united at an international meeting in Paris on forest exploitation organised by the FME (Forest Movement Europe) – expressed today (Sunday midday) their united opposition against the abusive use of tropical timbers in the new National Library (TGB – Très Grand Bibliothèque).
The protesters organised a sit-in on the esplanade of the TGB whilst unfurling a banner denouncing in their 14 languages, including 3 Cameroonian dialects, what they consider to be an abuse of tropical wood. An IPE label was stamped on to one of the steps of the esplanade.
The 6-hectare central square of the TGB required the extraction of around 400 adult ipe trees which provoked the degradation of about 6 000 hectares of Amazonian rainforest. Added to this are the interior shutters of the four towers which necessitated 110,000 m2 of okoume veneer originating from Gabon. Coastal okoume has been exploited since 1898 and is now decimated. Foreign companies – such as the franco-german firm Glunz-Isoroy- now log in “deep” Gabon where the forests are not easily accessible and where endangered and protected animal species such as chimpanzees, elephants, gorillas and the endemic sun-tailed monkey used to live in peace. Moreover, and contrary to promises made in 1992 by the then patron of the project Mr. Dominique Jamet, another tropical timber – afzelia – has been used for the interior panelling and for the furniture. According to Mr. Audebert, the director of Isoroy, this is particularly worrying because “the TGB ordered more afzelia than the annual production of the whole of West Africa”. Afzelia is a slow-growing tree found principally in Cameroon where conflicts between logging companies and the local people have become more and more apparent.
The international environmentalist community represented by :
Rettet den Regenwald (Germany)
Pro Regenwald (Germany)
Robin Wood (Germany)
Artists for Nature (Germany)
Forests Monitor (UK)
Bruno Manser Foundation (Switzerland)
World Rainforest Movement (UK)
Sarawak Campaign Committee (Japan)
Nature Youth (Norway)
Society for Threatened People (Switzerland)
Rainforest Information Centre (Australia)
Future in Our Hands (Norway)
Friends of the Earth (UK ; Netherlands ; Sweden)
Nature League (Finland)
Robin des Bois (France)
Environmental Defense Fund (USA)
is unanimous in condemning the excessive, provocative and promotional use of tropical timbers in a public building which has the vocation of international culture.