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Greens call for action against illegal timber

18 November 2006

Greens call for action against illegal timber imports

The Green Party is calling on the Government to take urgent action against illegally and unsustainably logged timber imports, and Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons is drafting a private member's bill aimed at ending this trade.

"During 2005 for instance, New Zealand imported $67 million worth of timber and timber-based products from Indonesia, even though at least 70 per cent of Indonesia's timber exports, according to some reports, have been unsustainably or illegally logged," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"Illegal logging threatens the lives, homes and environment of many people in the Pacific and South-East Asia. By being a willing party to the illegal timber trade we also put at risk the many New Zealand foresters that are playing by the rules and managing their forests under the Sustainable Management provisions of the Forests Act - but who just can't compete with the flood of cheap imports from places where the timber is simply being ripped out the ground."

"Currently, I am in the process of drafting a private member's bill that will require all imported timber to have a certificate showing that it was legally and sustainably logged. Internationally, there are forest certification systems available to draw upon, and that indicate to consumers whether the timber and timber products in question have been sustainably harvested.

"The current necessity to check and certify timber imports for bio-security purposes means that such measures would not add a huge extra cost to importers, if they were asked to add checks for sustainable forest management.

"Consumers have a role to play as well. Most consumers would not want to be part of destroying forever these ancient forests and their rich plant and animal life. At point of purchase, we urge consumers to ask for certification from the retailer that any timber furniture they may be considering has been certified to show that it came from legally and sustainably logged forests," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"We also urge the Government to amend its Gov-3 programme to ensure that all state agencies are required to ban the use of illegal and unsustainable timber at all stages of construction and refurbishment of their offices, no matter what the dollar amounts involved may be. "

ENDS

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