During Operation “Ipe”, authorities in Brazil seized more than 130 thousand cubic meters of wood. That’s equivalent to about 6,200 truckloads. According to the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) – a branch of the Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office, the wood is illegal.
Timber barge gets stranded on the Mamuru River
The events leading up to this historic seizure of wood began on November 15, when the Federal Police in Brazil seized a timber barge that ran aground in the Mamuru River, in Parintins, Amazonas. (View map).
The species of logs being transported did not correspond to the species declared in the Forest Guides. The barge contained about 2,700 cubic meters of logs.
Soon after, reports emerged that more barges were involved, and that the total volume of timber seized exceeded 6,000 cubic meters. Species included Ipe and Massaranduba.
Other reasons for the timber seizure emerged as well. The documents of forest origin (DOF) were allegedly forged.
And the declared value of the timber appears to have been wrong. Based on reports, the declared value per cubic meter of log was only about US$ 40/m3.
Operation Ipe is launched
In response to these initial seizures, the Federal Police and the MPF launched “Operacao Handroanthus”. The latter word in reference to the genera of species commonly traded as “Ipe”.
It’s estimated that the operation seized more than 130 thousand cubic meters of logs in the area bordering the states of Pará and Amazonas.
According to reports from the MPF and the Ministry of Defense, it seems that the most significant volume of timber – about 42,000 m3 – was seized roughly 200 kilometers from Itaituba, Pará.
Military secures seized timber in Itaituba
The scale of the seizure is so significant that soldiers from the Ministry of Defense have been called in. They are providing security and logistical support for the agents measuring the seized timber.
Securing, measuring and transporting the logs seized in Operation Handroanthus is expected to take weeks. One of the big questions that remains is… what will happen to all of this timber?
While seized timber is often destroyed, there have been calls to donate this timber for public works. There is opposition to auctioning it, for fear that the timber would return to the hands of the suspected offenders, through intermediaries.
Historical timber seizure will take years to resolve
The volume of timber seized in the Operation is more than double the largest previous seizure in Brazil. In 2010, sixty-five thousand cubic meters of wood were seized. That timber also originated in western Pará.
As in most cases of forest law violations in Brazil, the legal processes that will follow this historical event will likely go on for many years.
Last updated May 26, 2021 9:50am EST
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Header photo: Cipa/PM