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Forests, people in PNG, NZ furniture industry lose

Forests, people in PNG and NZ furniture industry will lose out in new illegal logging policy

Auckland-11 December 2006-- The Government’s new policy will do virtually nothing to halt the importation of illegally logged timber coming into New Zealand, Greenpeace said today.

The new policy, announced by Jim Anderton yesterday, is a slight shift from the status quo. The only new thing is that it is now mandatory for Government Departments to seek legally logged wood.

“If it’s good enough for Government Departments, why isn’t it good enough for the rest of the country?” asked Grant Rosoman of Greenpeace.

“The only way of stop illegal wood imports immediately would be straightforward regulation. This is a clear and simple answer and, like biosecurity controls, would have been relatively easily implemented,”he said.

Instead, the Government will be tied up in bilateral arrangements which will take years to negotiate. The World Bank has warned that 80% of the wood coming from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea is illegal. Meanwhile, hardwood furniture products made from illegal hardwood like kwila are pouring in from China, undercutting New Zealand’s own sustainable furniture industry.

“The biggest losers in this policy are the forests and peoples of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia – and the New Zealand furniture manufacturers.”

The Government’s two key arguments against regulation are bogus and are perhaps disguising the real issue – that the Government doesn’t want to upset potential trade agreement partners like China. <>

The first bogus arguments is that illegally logged wood is impossible to define and assess for legality. <>“This is rubbish – this is already being done by the Forest Stewardship Council, the Tropical Forest Trust and others,” said Rosoman.

There would also be no breach of WTO rules – so long as the legislation is implemented within New Zealand as well as on imports. Both Greenpeace and the FSC have legal opinions to support this.


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