Greenpeace exposes illegal timber scandal

Press release - 27 July, 2011
Greenpeace exposes illegal timber scandal in Sydney’s CBD Calls on Federal Government to finally ban illegal timber imports.

Sydney, Wednesday 27 July 2011: Following the discovery of illegally logged plywood on site, Greenpeace took action at the high-profile Central Park development in Sydney’s CBD today. At 7am this morning, activists scaled a 50 metre construction crane and hung a banner reading ‘Stop Illegal Timber’. They also set up a ‘forest crime scene’ to cordon off the piles of plywood illegally logged in the last remaining rainforests of Malaysian Borneo.

In-depth Greenpeace investigations in Australia - and on-the-ground investigations carried out for the Norwegian Government - have revealed that illegal timber from the rainforests of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo is being bought and sold across Australia. [1]

Read the Forest crime file report

Greenpeace Forests Campaigner, Reece Turner said:

“We’re here today to expose a crime - the crime of illegally logged timber being used all over Australia. This is just a small example of the hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal timber that makes its way into the homes and offices of unwitting Australians every year because there are no laws to stop it.[2]

“Illegal timber isn’t fair on anyone. Australian businesses and Australian mums and dads deserve to know if they are buying timber products directly linked to rainforest destruction. The government needs to pass effective new laws - like those in the US and the EU - that will shut down the illegal timber trade in Australia once and for all.

“The Labor Government has finally drafted laws aimed at stopping this trade, but in their current form, they won’t do the job. Unless the laws are tightened, the illegal timber we see being used here today could continue to be bought and sold in Australia. The government must require that all imported rainforest timber be independently guaranteed as legal and sustainable to the highest standard, such as the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and provide proper resourcing to police this organized crime.”

The plywood found at the Central Park development comes from timber concessions in Sarawak where systematic and widespread incidents of illegal logging were documented. Malaysia’s largest logging company, Samling, was found to be logging protected species, encroaching on areas designated as national parks, destroying rivers and fraudulently tagging logs.

The rainforests of Sarawak are some of the oldest and most biologically diverse on Earth. They provide habitats for rare and endemic species like the clouded leopard and the Bornean orang-utan. They are also home to the indigenous Penan people, who have ongoing legal action against Samling over land rights issues. [3]

Contact: Jessa Latona - 0488 208 465 or James Lorenz - 0400 376 021


[1] In 2009, the Norwegian Government published a report documenting illegal logging by Malaysian company, Samling. The evidence was acquired through research and on-the-ground investigations undertaken by UK-based investigative NGO, Earthsight. See report at: http://www.regjeringen.no/upload/FIN/etikk/Recommendation_Samling.pdf

[2] The Australian Government commissioned a report in 2005 which estimated illegal timber imports to be $A400m but more a more recent estimation by the EU Commission put the figure at $A840m. See http://www.thecie.com.au/RIS%20illegal%20logging/17%20-%20EU%20submission.pdf, p6-7

[3] http://www.survivalinternational.org/about/samling

Categories