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Illegal Timber Trade: EU says no, New Zealand yes

Fri, 2 July 2004

Illegal Timber Trade: EU says no, New Zealand yes

Brussels, 2nd July 2004: Greenpeace calls on the New Zealand Government to take urgent action and introduce import restrictions on illegal timber after EU Environment Ministers took a firm stand this week.

“The New Zealand Government has failed to act on illegal timber imports, even after Greenpeace exposed illegal timber imports from Papua New Guinea earlier this year.” Said Greenpeace forests campaigner Grant Rosoman. “The Government should follow the EU’s call for acting "without delay" by adopting timber import controls.”

EU Environment Ministers have called for legislation to prevent the trade in illegal timber. They requested that the European Commission act “without delay”, recalling their earlier demand to review options for such a law.

"Illegal logging is a global catastrophe - it fuels civil wars, undermines regional security, involves human rights abuses, causes biodiversity loss, and contributes to deforestation and climate change. It is totally unacceptable that New Zealand should continue to be involved in the illegal timber trade," said Mr Rosoman.

In 2003 New Zealand imported over 10,000 m3 of tropical timber worth $12 million along with $150 million worth of wooden furniture. Two of the major source countries are PNG and Indonesia. The Indonesian government has acknowledged that 80% of logging is illegal. In PNG a World Bank/PNG Government forestry review team found breaches to the forestry regulations by most logging operations .

"Labour made a commitment in its last two manifestos to cleaning up timber imports, but the New Zealand Government has continually failed to take action. It is particularly unfair for local forestry as they are required to be legal and meet all the requirements of the Forests Act," said Mr Rosoman.

The Labour Party 2002 manifesto states that "Labour will: Work towards ensuring that only sustainably produced timber is imported into New Zealand. To this end, we will continue to work with timber importers and environmental groups."

New Zealand and the EU made commitments at the UN Convention of Biodiversity in February 2004, to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010. “Effective legislation and procurement policies are the only way to stop the destruction caused by illegal logging.” Concluded Mr Rosoman.

(1) Forestry Independent Review Team 2004 : Toward Sustainable Timber Production – a review of existing logging projects. The Interagency Forestry Review Committee of the PNG Government. Unpublished report. May. 100p + appendices. http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/pdfs/PNGReviewReport2004.pdf

Background Documents

Greenpeace EU Press Release and illegal logging briefing: http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/forests/BriefingOnIllegalTimberTradeInE U-Eng.pdf

Towards Sustainable Timber Production – a review of existing logging projects. Prepared For: THE GOVERNMENT OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA C/- THE INTER-AGENCY FORESTRY COMMITTEE http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/pdfs/PNGReviewReport2004.pdf

EU Council Provisional Statement from the meeting of Environment Ministers on 28th June. With illegal imports reference under biodiversity on page 22. http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/pdfs/EUCouncilProvisionalStatement280604.pdf

ENDS

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