Brazil Sentences Three Companies for ‘Timber Laundering’
A Brazilian court found three companies guilty of illegally logging in the Amazon rainforest, fined them US$100,000 each and ordered them to plant 10 hectares with the protected Brazil nut tree, which they were found to have exploited.
Mil Madeiras, has been operating for 20 years and states on its website that it has “obtained certification from Brazilian environmental authorities, which attest to the origin of its wood products.”One of the companies,
“This shows our concern for the environment,” the website says, assuring that the company’s products are legal.
However, authorities discovered that Mil Madeiras and the two other firms were part of a network involved in illegal logging and transportation.
During an operation dubbed ‘Guardians of the Mountains’, authorities set up a roadblock in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais and stopped vehicles that were transporting wood from the Amazon.
At the time, Minas Gerais was believed to be the state with the second highest incidence of illegal timber trade. About 11% of all routes used for transporting wood illegally harvested from the Amazon passed through Minas Gerais, according to local media.
Authorities seized during the operation 600 cubic meters of timber illegally logged in the Amazon as well as 17 trucks. They imposed fines worth more than $90,000.
Mixed with other logs, officers found Brazilian nut, which is sought after for its quality and used for carpentry, flooring, and heavy construction. However, its exploitation has been prohibited since the early 1990s. The convicted companies could not present the right paperwork for the logs.
The court found that the three companies were involved in illegal cutting of protected Amazon trees in Rondônia, where deforestation has been a major problem. They laundered the timber by mixing the illegally logged wood with legal logs and their papers never mentioned the Brazil nut.