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Big advance in the campaign against kwila imports

28 July, 2008

Media Release: Big advance in the campaign against kwila imports

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee has been informed by Harvey Norman Stores NZ that the furniture chain will no longer import and sell products made from kwila. Spokesperson Maire Leadbeater said that her organisation was delighted with the news that no new kwila products will be sourced, and that all sales of kwila products will cease from the end of March 2009.

'This marks a major turning point in the campaign to end kwila imports, as Harvey Norman is the latest of several major retailers to make this commitment - Big Save,
Briscoes, Farmers and The Warehouse have all made similar undertakings. The goal of a kwila-free New Zealand is a bit closer!' said Maire Leadbeater.

'Regrettably, the New Zealand Government is dragging its feet. It will not agree to impose a ban on the import of kwila, even though it supports the international effort to have kwila listed as an endangered species under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Government also plans - but is yet to enact - "consumer education" about kwila.'

Earlier this year IHRC staged a series of 'street theatre' demonstrations at Harvey Norman as well as other furniture stores in Auckland. These actions were part of a broad campaign (involving Greepeace and the Green Party and other peace and human rights groups) against the import of illegally and unsustainably logged wood imports. IHRC focused on kwila imports because most kwila here is sourced illegally from Indonesian controlled West Papua, where the security forces control this resource extraction.

West Papua is home to one of the world's last remaining stands of old growth forest and to a treasure trove of biodiversity. The indigenous people of West Papua say that the forest is their supermarket and their pharmacy, but they are steadily being forced off their lands as the forest is felled to meet western demands for tropical hardwood. Lately deforestation is escalating as areas are clear felled to make way for massive palm oil plantations. Recently Papuan NGOs joined forces with environmental groups to call for a ban new forestry and plantation deals until indigenous rights are protected.

'We will continue to keep the pressure on Government to put an end to this trade in destruction. We will also keep the pressure on recalcitrant retailers and work to raise public awareness of the true cost of kwila furniture and decking.'

ENDS

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