The city council of Ocean City in New Jersey voted 6-0 last Thursday to cancel a $1.1 million purchase of ipê timber originating in the Amazon rainforest.
The move came after a campaign by environmental groups, including Ecological Internet, which runs Forests.org, a forest news aggregator.
“Ecological Internet’s network sent over 100,000 protest emails from 80 countries highlighting the ecological truth that maintaining intact primary rainforests is a requirement to address climate change and achieve global ecological sustainability,” said Glen Barry, founder of Ecological Internet. “The message is getting through — to survive rainforest logging must end, with compensation to local peoples, and remaining rainforests protected and allowed to expand.”
While activists hailed the decision, city council members said it was economic, not environmental concerns, that were responsible for the cancellation. Low water levels in the Amazon were said to be behind unacceptable delays for the timber.
“We didn’t get our order,” Council President Keith Hartzell was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “We will do everything in our power to fight against companies that don’t deliver.”
The city had received only 3 percent of its order to date.
“They have breached the contract,” said Councilman Roy Wagner, who told the Associated Press that using synthetic lumber would have saved the city $500,000. “We’re not going to pay the bill.”
The announcement comes less than 10 days after New York City said it would ban the use of Amazon rainforest hardwoods for benches in the city’s parks.