Greenpeace demands Malaysia government to stop illegal timber trade

Feature story - October 6, 2004
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 at the international meeting of endangered species CITES this week.

"The facts are clear, Malaysia is turning a blind eye to the rampant trade in this endangered species and the only way to stop it is to take a position against this criminal destructive trade," said Alex Ryan of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "Malaysia needs to vote for the listing of ramin on Appendix II of CITES and the future of over 125 other CITES species that are dependent of the ramin swamp forest for their survival."(1)

The environmental activists chained themselves to the gates of the Malaysian Embassy. A giant inflatable Orang-utan displayed a banner that read: Malaysia, Don't steal my forest. Activists also delivered a letter the Ambassador of Malaysia in Thailand asking for his support in getting his government to support the listing of Ramin on Appendix 2 of CITES.

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.

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

Illegal international trade in timber is threatening the survival of countless species and forest peoples and seriously undermines any attempts to ensure this trade becomes truly sustainable.

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 to Editors:

(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.