Illegal Kwila timber imports fuel rainforest destruction

Press release - October 18, 2006
Kwila decking and outdoor furniture is on sale at a store near you – but they cost the earth, Greenpeace warned today. Kwila imported into New Zealand is nearly all from illegal logging in Papua – Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Greenpeace Forest Crimes Unit and landowners from Papua New Guinea blockade the entrances of Auckland based timber company The LumberBank.

"If people are thinking of relaxing over the summer on some nice rich red kwila timber outdoor furniture, they should first spare a thought for the communities and creatures of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia whose forests are being destroyed to get the timber," said Greenpeace Forests Campaigner Grant Rosoman.

"There are alternatives to illegal wood products. NZ consumers can choose to buy outdoor furniture with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) green label, or ask for 'Ecotimber' from community management forestry operations in the Pacific. At the bare minimum consumers should ask for proof of legality when they are buying any product made of wood," explained Grant Rosoman.

Greenpeace calls on the New Zealand government to immediately stop the imports of illegal wood products such as kwila decking or outdoor furniture, and to adopt border controls that prevent illegal wood coming into New Zealand.

"How is it that this government can turn a blind eye to these illegal imports - further fuelling forest loss in PNG and Indonesia? If it was illegal cars or electronic gear the government would act but in this case with wood they are sitting on their hands," said Rosoman.

According to Ministry of Forestry statistics the imports of wooden furniture have increased four fold in recent years to a value of over $150 million annually. With much of the forests of Asia Pacific already logged or cleared, the remaining large area where illegal logging is now focused is on the island of New Guinea, which also happens to be the source of much of New Zealand's imported tropical wood, such as kwila.

"Kwila is becoming increasing threatened by a rapacious logging industry, to a point that the Indonesian government is proposing to list kwila on Appendix 3 of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)," said Rosoman.

The World Bank recently reported 70% and 70-80% illegal logging rates for PNG and Indonesia respectively, as well as illegal logging of public forests costing US$15 billion annually in lost revenue, assets and tax evasion.

For more information on the recent World Bank report www.worldbank.org/fleg

For more information on remaining intact forests go to www.intactforests.org