New Zealand's outdoor furniture is fueling forest destruction

Forest Friendly Outdoor Furniture Guide

Press release - February 6, 2008
Greenpeace and the Indonesia Human Rights Committee today released the 'Guide to Forest Friendly Outdoor Furniture Retailers' (1) which shows that the majority of outdoor timber furniture sold in New Zealand is contributing to the destruction of tropical forests in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Greenpeace and the Indonesia Human Rights Committee today released the 'Guide to Forest Friendly Outdoor Furniture Retailers' (1) which shows that the majority of outdoor timber furniture sold in New Zealand is contributing to the destruction of tropical forests in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

The Guide ranks 19 leading outdoor furniture retailers in New Zealand on their policies and practice on eliminating the sale of timber products that are from illegal and destructive sources. The top four retailers on the scorecard are The Warehouse (1st), Briscoes (2nd), Bunnings (3rd) and Mitre 10 (4th). Mr Kwila (18th) and Design Warehouse in Auckland (19th) were at the bottom of the table.

"Currently New Zealand timber retailers are a law unto themselves, there are no government regulations in place to stop illegal and destructive rainforest timber from entering the market place," said Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner.

"The companies that are acting to protect the world's remaining forests are doing so voluntary and get a big thumbs up from Greenpeace, but government laws must be developed to force the lazy companies to stop importing destructively logged timber."

The worst wood on the market which is used extensively for both outdoor furniture and decking is the tropical timber kwila, (also known as Merbau), virtually all kwila on the market is from illegal sources in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. (2)

Last year Greenpeace released a report on the status of kwila called 'Merbau's last Stand', which forecasts that kwila will be extinct in the wild within 35 years if current logging trends continue. (3)

"Do kiwis realize that the timber furniture they're buying could be pushing tropical forests, indigenous communities, the climate and unique animals like orangutans to the brink of extinction?  Say no to kwila when you next go shopping for outdoor furniture or timber, there are alternatives; ask for 'Good Wood' products made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or verified legal wood, and buy NZ made if possible, " Said Rosoman.

Greenpeace estimates that approximately NZ$20 million of kwila sawn timber, decking and outdoor furniture is imported into New Zealand every year. According to the Ministry of Forestry statistics the imports of wooden furniture have increased four fold in recent years to a value of over $150 million annually. The Minister of Forestry, Jim Anderton also stated that illegally produced wood depresses world log prices by 19 per cent (Press Release, 10th December 2006).

"We are particularly concerned about kwila being sourced out of Indonesia where it nearly all comes from the remote Papua provinces. Logging there is often connected to serious human rights abuses." said Maire Leadbeater of Indonesia Human Rights Committee. "If retailers cannot guarantee that their wood products are legal and not destroying indigenous peoples' livelihoods in Indonesia and PNG, then they shouldn't sell them."

Indonesia's forests are being logged faster than any other forested nation and globally deforestation contributes approximately 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is through this deforestation that Indonesia and Brazil are 3rd and 4th respectively as the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters.

For the first time countries agreed at the last round of climate negotiations in Bali in December 2007 to bring deforestation into the global climate treaty. They will embark on a process over the next two years to do this.

Notes to Editor

(1) Download a copy of the 'Guide to Forest Friendly Outdoor Furniture Retailers here greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press/reports/outdoor-furniture-guide

(2) The World Bank found that between 70 - 80 per cent of timber products leaving Indonesia and PNG are logged illegally. World Bank, August 2006. Strengthening Law Enforcement and Governance. Report No. 36638-GLB

(3) ' Merbau's Last Stand: How Industrial Logging is Driving the Destruction of the Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific.' (including maps) Published by Greenpeace International, April 2007. 

Other contacts: Maire Leadbeater, Indonesian Human Rights Committee, 0274 436 957 Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner, 03 382 5476 or 021 428 415