Rainforest Victories
on New Jersey's Boardwalks!

Wetlands has assisted Rainforest Relief efforts on a number of successful campaigns to stop the destruction of tropical rainforests for wood for New Jersey boardwalks. The following reports were written by Rainforest Relief.

Ocean City, NJ

Rainforest Relief's second major campaign began in 1995 when we were contacted by Larry and Becky Carlbon, two residents of Ocean City, the famed resort town in southern New Jersey. They had read about our campaign in {Avon-by-the-Sea}, NJ, in which Avon had bid for enough tropical wood for an entire mile-long boardwalk, decking and understructure (a convoluted campaign which we ultimately lost).

OC had developed a ten-year master plan that called for the complete conversion of their 3.5 mile boardwalk to a tropical wood called ipe, mostly illegally logged from the Amazon rainforests of Brazil — a wood that has become extremely popular for boardwalks and other waterfront construction and now even home decks.

What ensued would entail thousands of hours, numerous demonstrations, dozens of news articles and letters to the editor in the local and regional papers, a "Boardwalk-a-Thon", area businesses, dozens of town meetings and dozens of OC residents (who eventually formed a grassroots groups called Friends of the Rainforest), and would last a total of 22 months, before Ocean City City Council would finally vote to spare the rainforests and end the use of tropical hardwoods for their boardwalk.

Various elements in Ocean City are now calling for revisiting the Council’s commitment.

Wildwood, NJ

Shortly after the Ocean City vote, we were notified by a local resident, Terrance O’Neil, that Wildwood, NJ, twenty minutes north of Ocean City, had gone out to bid for tropical wood for renovations to their 3.5-mile-long boardwalk. The city engineers cited the 10-year Master Plan created by Ocean City's city engineer.

We quickly mobilized local opposition to the use of rainforest wood. After four months of campaigning that saw numerous press articles and seven or eight city council meetings packed with rainforest wood opponents, Wildwood’s City Commission voted to reject the use of tropical hardwoods.

Ventnor, New Jersey

Early in 2002 Rainforest Relief took on the town of Ventnor, NJ after finding out that the town had gone out to bid for a massive amount of tropical hardwoods for an entire renovation of their coastal boardwalk.

Ventnor, like Asbury Park, was partly using state money for the repairs.

Calling in our campaign partners from Ocean City, NJ, just south of Ventnor, we met with the mayor, commissioners and city engineer to tell them of the problems with using rainforest wood and the best alternative - recycled plastic lumber. They didnít respond as we had hoped and so we took up the campaign. Within two months, we had raised enough of a media buzz, including a supportive editorial in the Atlantic City Press, the largest paper in South Jersey, that the city council took voted to spend the extra money to purchase independently certified tropical woods. While this is not a complete victory, as even so-called "low-impact" logging in the tropics has been shown to reduce biodiversity, it is a far cry better than the illegal and often murderous logging that usually takes place in the Amazon for ipe. As the order was for nearly 100,000 board feet of wood, this victory spared the logging of thousands of acres of pristine Amazon wilderness.

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