Illegal Ramin trade continues to Singapore and Malaysia:

Greenpeace/Telapak investigation reveals new smuggling tactics

Press release - 6 October, 2004
Greenpeace today revealed new evidence of the criminal smuggling of Ramin timber from Indonesia to Malaysia and Singapore and its threat on the survival of the Orang-utan and Sumatran Tiger. Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, is in Singapore to highlight the destruction of the region's last remaining ancient forests. Singapore is a trafficking hub for illegal timber in the region and the government is failing to stop this criminal activity.

"It is quite evident that if countries in the region do not act now to stop the destruction of rainforests and illegal trade, we will soon have nothing to protect," said Tim Birch, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner. "Countries like Singapore and Malaysia hold the future of not only timber species, but of all plants, animals and communities that live in and depend on forests, in their hands. The question is do they want to do the right thing and vote in favour of life for these species or do they want to be tainted with the blood of Orang-utan and Sumatran Tiger."

Research conducted by Greenpeace and Telapak reveals that Malaysia has failed to halt the illegal trade in Ramin squared-off logs (flitches) and sawn timber into Malaysian ports. Boatloads of Ramin have been detected leaving Riau province in Sumatra bound for Malaysia. Massive amounts of illegal flitches continue to flow into mainland Malaysia, with the full knowledge of Malaysian customs authorities. Clearly, Malaysia is failing to meet its obligations to halt the trade in illegal timber.

Currently in Bangkok, governments are gathered for the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) where they are expected to vote on the future of a number species including Ramin.

Greenpeace activists today chained themselves to the gates of the Malaysian embassy demanding that country's government to take a firm public stance against the laundering and trade of Ramin timber species and actively support the proposal by the Indonesian Government to place Ramin onto Appendix 2 of CITES (1) today. Greenpeace also calls on the Singapore Government to support the proposal to list Ramin on Appendix 2 of CITES.

Ramin is a hardwood tree species that is mainly found in lowland swamp forests of Malaysia and Indonesia, which are crucial habitat for Orang-utan and Sumatran Tiger, both threatened with extinction. The species is in great demand in the countries such as USA, Italy, Japan and the UK. Ramin timber is used in common household products such as window blinds and baby cots.

Sumatra's forests are some of the most threatened ecosystems on earth. The World Bank has estimated that all remaining lowland forests in Sumatra will be cleared by the year 2005 if logging and land clearing continues at current rates. "The clearing of these forests must stop today," concluded Birch.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Notes: (1) CITES was established to regulate and control trade in endangered species. It provides three regulatory options in the form of Appendices. Animals and plants listed under Appendix I are excluded from international commercial trade except in very special circumstances. Commercial trade is permitted for species listed under Appendix II but it is strictly controlled on the basis of CITES permits or certificates. Appendix II includes species that are protected within the borders of a member country.