Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ, a small town nestled on the New Jersey shore, is moving forward with plans to use ipê, a tropical hardwood logged from old-growth rainforests (only), in the Amazon. Brazil and Peru are the main exporters, two countries where the governmental environmental agencies have admitted that 80% of logging is done illegally.

Members of Rainforest Relief and Friends of the Rainforest (Ocean City) have already protested at two of Avon’s town meetings, but the commissioners and the City Engineer, Charles Rooney of T&M Associates, are so far not budging.

In the past, Avon had used tropical hardwoods for the pilings, stringers and decking of the boardwalk that was a replacement of an earlier structure that had been wiped out by the ’91 Nor’easter — a storm that some argued was bolstered by climate change.

Having contributed to deforestation and thus to a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions (among other things) for that round, Avon lost their boardwalk when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Jersey Shore. The storm also demolished boardwalks in Belmar, just south of Avon, Seaside Heights, Long Branch, Sea Girt and parts of the Asbury Park and Atlantic City boardwalks.

So far, other than Atlantic City’s spotty repairs, Belmar and Avon are the only two towns in New Jersey that called for the use of tropical hardwoods. Rainforest Relief met with Belmar’s city administrator and city engineer in January, but they were set to move forward with rainforest wood anyway, even though Belmar had never used hardwoods before. At the end of the meeting, Rainforest Relief informed these staffers that we intending on filing for an injunction to stop the use of tropical hardwoods.

The next day, the Asbury Park Press, one of the state’s larger papers, reported that Belmar had decided to switch the contract to use Trex, the material they had used in the past. The mayor expressed that the town could not afford to be held up by a lawsuit.

Avon has ordered 58,230 sq. ft. of ipê decking.
At 20' wide, the boardwalk is approximately 2911.5 feet, or 0.51 miles, long.

58,230 sq. ft. of 1x6" wood = 29,115 board feet.

In our Deep Impact report, we site numbers from a tropical logger, showing that only 38 board feet of fine export quality, four-side-clear material longer than 7' is produced from an entire ipê tree. Avon has ordered boards in lengths of 8, 12 and 20 feet.

At an average of two ipê trees per acre (76 board feet/acre), 766 acres of rainforest will be logged to produce the decking for Avon’s boardwalk.

According to the 2010 census, just 1,901 people live in Avon-by-the-Sea… and the town measures 347 acres.

If ever there would be an enormous impact-per-person — on Earth’s climate and biodiversity — this is it.

Sign the petition on Change.org, to send emails to Avon’s mayor, commissioners and city engineer.

We will keep you up-to-date.

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