Open Letter of Concern Regarding RAN’s Support for Ancient Forest Logging, and Notification of Impending Campaign
October 4, 2007
Mr. Michael Brune
Rainforest Action Network
221 Pine Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104 USA
Re: Open letter of concern regarding RAN's support for ancient forest logging, and notification of impending campaign
Dear Mr. Brune,
I am writing on behalf of EcoInternet's global ancient forest protection network to express grave concern with Rainforest Action Network's (RAN) continued support for “sustainable” first time logging of ancient forests (defined as primary and old-growth forests). And to inform you that we intend to intensify our “End Ancient Forest Logging” campaign, targeting RAN until your organization disavows industrial first time logging of primary and old-growth forests and joins efforts to end industrial logging of all such remaining ancient forests.
As the largest, most visible rainforest campaigning organization in the United States; we are extremely distressed at your failure to embrace the current groundswell of concern regarding climate change and the major role ancient forest protection, including but not limited to rainforests, has in its mitigation. RAN is actively impeding a broad based, international movement to end ancient forest logging as a keystone response to global warming by clinging to old failed forest conservation initiatives, and continues to issue misleading clichés regarding industrial logging of ancient forests contributing to environmental protection.
RAN continues to make false, scientifically indefensible, statements on your web site and within campaign materials regarding the purported environmental benefits of FSC certification of ancient forest logging. A prominent example can be found on your “Old Growth” page at http://ran.org/what_we_do/old_growth/, where under “Good Wood” you state: “Wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is sustainably obtained …” No one, not even FSC, suggests certified logging of primary and old-growth forests is environmentally or ecologically sustainable, claiming only it is “responsibly managed”.
Further, RAN suggests prominently on your home page at http://www.ran.org/ that you are for both “protection” and “sustainable logging” of ancient forests. Certified industrial scale first time logging of ancient rainforests is not “protection” by any reasonable definition. And it is certainly not ecologically sustainable. You appear to be confusing preservation with conservation of ancient forests. RAN's approach to forest protection based upon reforming industrial ancient forest logging is outdated, and not based upon ecological science or requirements for global ecological sustainability. It fails to seize the moment of heightened public concern with climate change and global ecological issues in general, and push for protection of all ancient forests as global ecological reserves based upon payments for avoided deforestation and support for small scale, community based eco-forestry activities. The FSC was a great idea gone bad; as it has been usurped by the interests of large scale, commercial logging. We now know all ancient forests are of High Conservation Value; yet, ancient forest logging is most of FSC's future growth.
We are great admirers of past work on behalf of rainforests by RAN, but are distressed by your organization's current direction. In addition to misguided and misleading support that greenwashes continued industrial development of ancient rainforests, RAN has all but stopped doing rainforest campaigning. For the last couple years, it has been difficult to find any trace of current rainforest news of pure rainforest campaigning by RAN on your web site. Rainforests are more in need of protection than ever before yet RAN has essentially discontinued its direct efforts on their behalf. Your recent agri-business campaign is a good start at revamping your lapsed efforts, yet this is but one aspect of rainforest destruction, and it appears you are going it alone rather than working with those active in this arena for years.
While your upcoming “Rainforest Revel” event will undoubtedly be entertaining, RAN has lost their edge in regard to rainforest protection work. We are not convinced that seeing Bob Weir jam on his 60th birthday is translating into rainforest protection, though it certainly is cool. Could it be that throwing good parties, mixing with celebrities, while proposing feel good inadequate policies — such as we can industrially log ancient forests and protect them too — is more important than espousing policies adequate to sustain rainforests while protecting the climate and achieving global ecological sustainability? RAN clearly understands the gravity of looming global heating, and has staked out rigorous positions on ending the use of coal, yet has failed miserably to do likewise for ancient forests. Is RAN capable of reflection and change of strategies when current ones are shown to be ineffective?
I am writing to you to inform you that Rainforest Action Network has become a primary target of EcoInternet's campaign to end ancient forest logging. This disagreement regarding the desirability of logging ancient forests — be it falsely labeled sustainable, certified or ecosystem management — has gone beyond being a difference of opinion on how best to save the world's rainforests to one of ending RAN's damaging misrepresentations and falsehoods. What started out as a few blog entries and essays has now become a full global campaign to change RAN's forest protection policies. We will not let RAN sell-out any further ancient forests for industrial logging such as tragically occurred in British Columbia, Canada.
Consider yourselves “called-out” on your failed rainforest protection policies. We will be actively informing the public, your members, donors and board members of inaccuracies and misstatements in your rainforest protection campaign work; and encouraging them to stop supporting your work until such time as these are remedied. Tens of thousands of people in over 100 countries around the world have already sent over a million protest emails to environmental groups greenwashing ancient forest logging. The full focus of these efforts will now be directed at RAN. We have secured funding and have a number of disruptive non-violent actions readied for such an effort.
It is hoped that this open letter will avert this full out campaign. To do so, we demand from you:
1.) RAN must disassociate itself publicly from any further support for any industrial scaled logging, certified or otherwise, of primary and old-growth forests.
2.) Begin developing a rigorous rainforest campaign, linking full preservation and small scale community based eco-forestry activities that protect large, intact and contiguous rainforests with climate protection; similar in scope and ambition to your coal campaign.
3.) Removal of all scientifically misleading statements from RAN web site and campaign materials falsely suggesting that FSC certified ancient forest logging is “sustainable”; and that “sustainable logging” of ancient forests is compatible with their protection. Noting your web server is currently down, we hope you are doing this now given past expressions of concern.
We very much hope that RAN will successfully reform itself and its message to harness the huge wave of increasing climate change and rainforest awareness sweeping the globe. Together we hope to work with you to develop and achieve rainforest policy that contributes significantly to stopping climate change, that helps to equitably meet local needs, while beginning the process of identifying rainforest policies sufficient to achieve global ecological sustainability.
Dr. Glen Barry
P.O. Box 433
Denmark, WI 54208
+1 920 776 1075 phone