East Asian Governments failing on illegal logging as Greenpeace launches global Paradise Forests campaign

Feature story - March 7, 2006
In spite of the strong declaration at the 2001 FLEG Ministerial in Bali, countries in the region have failed to implement any rigorous measures to stop the illegal trade of timber from the region.

Greenpeace Global Forest Rescue Station on the banks of Lake Murray.

Greenpeace today called on participant countries to the East Asia Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) to put words into action and take steps to seriously address the problem of illegal logging in the region.

Despite a strong declaration at the FLEG Ministerial in Bali on September 13, 2001, countries in the region have failed to implement any rigorous measures to stop the illegal trade of timber from the region.

The Bali declaration promised to "take immediate action to intensify national efforts, and strengthen bilateral, regional and multilateral collaboration to address violations of forest law and forest crime, in particular illegal logging, associated illegal trade and corruption, and their negative effects on the rule of law".

Greenpeace forests campaigner Stephen Campbell expressed his disappointment in the process saying, "The Paradise Forests of the Asia Pacific are no better off than they were four and a half years ago.  Logs that have been illegally harvested continue to find their way to countries like Japan and China where they are used domestically or processed and sold on to markets in the EU and the US."

The Paradise Forests of Asia Pacific, which stretch from South East Asia, across the islands of Indonesia and on to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, are among some of the most heavily logged areas on earth.  Much of the large intact forest landscapes of these forests have already been logged.  In Indonesia the figure is as high as 72% while in Papua New Guinea (PNG) it is 60% .

"At this rate of destruction, the Paradise Forests and the unique plants and animals that live there could be gone in ten years," Mr Campbell said. "Governments must act now to protect these and other ancient forests before it is too late."

In a report entitled Chains of Destruction: the global trade in illegal timber an why Asia-Pacific countries must act now, Greenpeace outlined the problems faced by the Paradise, and other intact forests, in the region, and points ways that governments could be acting to prevent an ecological disaster. The Philippines case study reveals the on-going illegal logging in the Sierra Madre National Park, a legally-declared protected area that should be free from all forms of logging and exploitation, as well as the importation of illegal timber into the country.

"The Philippines, as Chair of the FLEG Task Force, should be the lead agent in its mission to address violations of forest laws and commission of forest crimes.  It should show its serious commitment to the FLEG process by enforcing strong measures to wipe out illegal and destructive logging locally, and push the FLEG process forward in the East Asian Region by actively opposing all sorts of illegal timber trade," explained Ajit Rye, Greenpeace International Asia Forests Political Advisor.

Greenpeace believes that strong measures need to be adopted in not only producer countries (like PNG and Indonesia), but also consumer countries (like China, Japan and the EU). Consumer countries must recognise the demand from their markets for cheap timber and wood products is fuelling this environmental disaster, and respond appropriately with measures such as legislation which allows for the prosecution of individuals and companies involved in the illegal trade of timber and timber products.

 "The FLEG process has the potential to make an important contribution in reducing the scourge of illegal logging," Mr Campbell said. "Increased regional as well as international cooperation and resources are fundamental to ensuring the success of this process, and greater law enforcement, governance and transparency will be vital components of this effort."

Greenpeace launched a global campaign this week to protect the earth's ancient forests.  In the Asia Pacific region Greenpeace is highlighting the problem of illegal logging by sending its ship, the Rainbow Warrior, on a 'Forests crime patrol' from PNG, through Indonesia and on to Japan to show that, despite commitments from governments, illegal logging continues.

At the same time Greenpeace volunteers from around the world are living and working alongside local landowners to showcase community forest solutions at the Global Forest Rescue Station at Lake Murray in Western Province, PNG.  Greenpeace has ten years experience of working with forest communities in Melanesia with ecologically sound alternatives to logging.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future. It is committed to protecting the world's last ancient forests and the people and animals that depend upon them.

Contact Information:

Greenpeace Forest Campaigner, Asia Pacific, Stephen Campbell: (m) +61 419 227 695

Greenpeace Japan media officer, Japan, Yuka Ozaki:  (m) +81 901 703 9294

Greenpeace South East Asia media officer, Lea Guerrero: (m) +63 916 374 4946 or (w) +63 243 470 34 (xtn 104)

Greenpeace media officer, Asia Pacific, Tiy Chung, (m) +61 409 604 010 or (w) +612 9263 0380

For media trying to reach Greenpeace volunteers at the Global Forest Rescue Station for interviews, please contact Tiy Chung.

(1) World Resources Institute. 1997. The Last Frontier Forests

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