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Wetlands Works Newsletter November 1999

What a month! The World Trade Organization will meet this month in Seattle among the protests of thousands of activists from all over the world, and once again we celebrate/instigate Buy Nothing Day! All to promote an end to corporate control and suggest an alternative to consumer culture. Come visit, drop us a line, give us a call, and get involved! Thanks, the staff at Wetlands Environmental and Social Justice Center

Environmental & Human Rights Protesters Declare: "We'd Rather Wear Nothing Than Wear Gap!"

Activists from the Wetlands Preserve Environmental and Social Justice Activism Center stripped to their underwear at the Gap store on 42nd Street and Broadway on October 18 to publicize the one-year anniversary of a consumer boycott resulting from the owners of Gap, Inc.'s destruction of Redwood forests in California. Activists are also protesting the company's use of sweatshop labor on the island of Saipan.

The demonstration was held as part of a national day of protest, with demonstrations in New York, San Francisco, and other cities. In July of 1998 The Fisher Family, owners of Gap, Inc., purchased ALL of Louisiana-Pacific Corporation's timber lands in Mendocino County, some 235,000 acres. After years of "liquidation logging," there is almost no old growth left in these L-P forest lands, the Redwood tree itself, which only grows in northern California, has become rare, the coho salmon is on the verge of extinction, and all other forest-dependent creatures are endangered. They are logging these trees using methods which include clearcutting, herbicides, and overcutting timber lands in rare fisheries and on extreme steep slopes creating unmanageable mudslides and deadly siltation in salmon streams.

The herbicides that Fisher-owned Mendocino Redwood Company uses and claim safe are known to have high levels of toxicity on the already endangered Coho Salmon as well as cancer causing and estrogenic effects on humans. Presently, Mendocino County has the 4th highest cancer rate and is the 4th largest user of pesticides and herbicides in the state of California. Workers, residents, tourists and wildlife are all at risk to these chemicals.

Activists also challenge Gap's use of sweatshop labor, as revealed in a series of lawsuits against the Gap and 17 other US clothing companies over their use of Saipan sweatshop labor. The suits accuse these companies of violating US anti-peonage laws, indentured servitude laws of the US, and international laws based on universally recognized human rights; and also of falsely advertising their products when they place "Made in the USA" on the merchandise tags.

With no US import tariffs, no US quota restrictions, a minimum wage of $3.05 per hour, and lax immigration laws, the Northern Mariana Islands-a US Commonwealth in the South Pacific- has attracted a host of foreign investors who produce clothes for some of the biggest brand-name labels at the cost of exploiting workers. According to Wetlands activist Adam Weissman, "Corporations have tried to pit labor and environmentalists against each other, but we now realize that we have a common enemy in the ruthless greed of multinational corporations like the Gap, willing to exploit both people and the planet for profits."

Call the Gap to protest! 1-800-333-7899

City Hall Park installs rainforest wood benches amid protests of rainforest activists

At the City Hall Park Opening Ceremony on October 7, activists protested the City's furthering of global warming and loss of species by using wood logged from tropical rainforests for City construction projects. The wood used for some of the new City Hall Park Benches is logged from Amazonian rainforests.

The protesters assert that the logging of rainforests is contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and with it increasing global warming by adding large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Destruction of rainforests is also leading to the extinction of thousands of unique species of plants and animals every year, seen by leading biologists as the greatest ecological catastrophe of our time. Burning and cutting of tropical forests is responsible for about 25% of human-caused global warming gases. Logging of rainforests greatly increases their chances of burning as occurred in late 1997 and early 1998 when milli8ons of acres of the rainforests of Indonesian Borneo burned, blanketing Malaysia and Singapore with smoke. Similarly, that year, Brazil experienced one of the worst "burning seasons" on record, due in great part to logging that exposed the rainforest to the sun.

Also, according to Keating, "Logging in Guyana is responsible for decimating forests and illegal incursions into indigenous peoples' traditional lands. The government has given the license to lob most of the country to hyper-aggressive Asian logging companies, contrary to an agreement with the World Bank that they wouldn't,"

In Guyana, the government has issued what it terms "exploratory leases" in order to circumvent an agreement with money-lending institutions not to sell concessions in the southern part of the country until more controls are put in place. There are currently an estimated 7.000 independent loggers in the country without any controls whatsoever, without management plans and without the need to have the forestry department oversee the cutting of particular trees or even in particular areas. They are wreaking havoc on Guyana's forests. But the greenheart that the City is using is coming from larger concessions or exploratory leases where old growth forests are constantly invaded for one or two trees per acre. World Resources Institute has stated the a logged tropical forest is 8 times more likely to be completely deforested than one remaining unlogged. Tell Mayor Giuliani to stop 212-788-7585 using rainforest wood!