A US embassy cable published by Wikileaks revealed the Peruvian government had knowledge of the illegal harvest and export of up to 90 percent of its mahogany timber.
The secret cable also revealed that Peru’s government is aware that the illegal timber is being ‘laundered’ using ‘document falsification, timber extraction outside the concession boundaries and links to bribes’.
According to Survival International, this news comes just weeks international headlines revealed that that loggers in Peru infiltrated protected areas inhabited by uncontacted tribes, forcing them to flee across the border into Brazil.
In the cable, then-US ambassador to Peru James Struble’s comments paint a damning picture of Peru’s forestry mismanagement and embarrasses Home Depot, Lowe’s and Lumber Liquidators which have all confirmed they use the timber in their products.
From the original cable summary, using Google Translate:
Peru exports the most broad leaf mahogany in the world, a majority of it to the US Much of the in the world, a majority of it to the U.S. Broad leaf mahogany [continues to be an] endangered species under Appendix II of the International endangered species under Appendix II of the International Convention against Trafficking in Endangered Species Convention Against Trafficking in Endangered Species (CITES).
According to Survival International, the unabated illegal logging poses a grave threat to uncontacted tribes who could be wiped out by diseases brought by outsiders or face inter-tribal warfare if they are pushed off their lands.
“The ambassador’s cable shows the alarming extent to which the authorities were aware of illegal logging in Peru, did not admit it, and did little to stop it,” said Survival’s Director, Stephen Corry. “Consumers in the US and Europe simply can’t rely on documents that purport to show Peruvian mahogany is sustainably sourced, as these are clearly not worth the paper they’re written on.”
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