Illegal Timber Supplies Axed by B&Q

Greenpeace exposé starts market shift in China

Press release - 12 June, 2007
Companies supplying China with illegal timber were dealt a major blow today when the world's third largest home improvement retailer, B&Q, announced a scheme to root out illegal supplies and guarantee within three years all products will be from certified responsible forestry programmes.

Merbau timber from Indonesia stored at the Yuzhou Wood Market on the banks of the River Pearl, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.

Two months ago, Greenpeace revealed that many timber species commonly sold in home improvement stores across China come from countries where up to 80% of the logging is illegal and destructive. (1)

At a press conference in Beijing this morning, B&Q Asia's Chief Executive Officer, Steve Gilman, said that the company has started working to ensure that all the timber products it sells in China come from legal sources. B&Q also guaranteed that, within three years, all product lines it sells in China will come from certified ecologically responsible forestry operations, in keeping with its parent company Kingfisher's global purchasing policy. (2)

Greenpeace China's Campaign Director Lo Sze Ping said: "Unless all companies that trade in timber products make concerted efforts, like B&Q, to clean up the timber trade and ensure that their wood comes from ecologically responsible sources, they will inadvertently contribute to global deforestation and to climate change. Companies operating in China have a particular onus to take action because China is now the world's largest importer of tropical wood and the rapid expansion of this sector is having a direct impact on the world's forests."

Today, only one fifth of the world's original forest remain in large, relatively undisturbed tracts (3). Protecting it is vital in order to tackle species extinction and, with up to 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions coming from tropical deforestation, to combat climate change (4).

In addition today's announcement, B&Q has also stopped selling flooring made from merbau, a tropical species that comes almost exclusively from the Island of New Guinea and is under serious threat of extinction in the wild.

"Despite our best efforts to assess the sources of our merbau flooring, we were unable to gain sufficient assurance that it was coming from legal operations," Mr Gilman said. "As a result, the only responsible choice we can make right now is to stop buying or selling this product, even though it has historically been one of our top sellers."

Greenpeace is calling on companies around the world to stop selling timber that comes from illegal and destructive sources. It is also calling on governments to ban illegally and destructively logged timber from entering their countries, and on countries that have intact forest landscapes to adopt a moratorium on logging in these areas until comprehensive participatory land-use planning has been completed.

Other contacts: Pat Venditti, Greenpeace International forest campaign co-ordinator: +44 (0)797 3375089Lo Sze Ping, Greenpeace China Campaign Director: 00 86 139 1146 0873Katharine Mill, Greenpeace Communications: +32 (0)496 156 229B&Q contact person Sarah Hu: 0086 21 5059 1331, email sarah.hu@b-and-qchina.com

Notes: (1) A Greenpeace survey found that home improvement companies in China are selling many tropical hardwood species, including merbau from the Island of New Guinea, teak from Burma, jatoba from the Amazon and sapelli from Africa: illegal and destructive logging is common in each of these regions. Few home improvement chains in China, the survey concluded, are implementing timber purchasing policies aimed at protecting the world's ancient forests. Copies of the survey are available on request.(2) www.kingfisher.com/index.asp?pageid=47(3) The Last Frontier Forests, WRI, 1997(4) Houghton, RA (2003). Revised estimates of the annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use and land management 1850 - 2000. Tellus 55B: 378-90; & Houghton, RA (2005a) Tropical Deforestation as a Source of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

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