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Timber importers step up where Government falls short

14 April 2011

New Zealand timber importers step up where Government falls short

The Green Party today congratulated the New Zealand Imported Tropical Timber Group (ITTG) for volunteering to only purchase and trade legal timber from Indonesia, but called on the Government to level the playing field for all by implementing regulation.

“I am pleased that ITTG have agreed to only purchase and trade timber from Indonesia that is from legal or certified sources,” said Green Party forestry spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

“However, this voluntary measure still leaves room for the sale of illegally harvested timber in New Zealand, and that is unacceptable.”

From 1 September 2011, members of ITTG will only import or sell timber from Indonesia that has credible verification of legality. The ITTG voluntary agreement was signed by many major retailers but did not cover 10 to 15 percent of the New Zealand market.

“No one should make a living from illegal and unsustainable exploitation of our natural world,” said Ms Delahunty.

“Destruction of tropical rainforests is accelerating in part because the demand for timber is leading to unsustainable and often illegal logging. We are losing species daily in rainforest biodiversity hotspots, and even the orang-utan is threatened.

“Illegal logging results in the loss of livelihood for millions of people around the world and is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse emissions – 20 percent of all emissions are a result of deforestation.

“New Zealand can take a stand against this environmental and social destruction by refusing the importation of all illegal timber products, but the Government won’t get behind ITTG and level the playing field.

“Members of the ITTG should not have to compete with retailers who are willing to sell illegally harvested, environmental and socially damaging timber products.

“The European Union and the United States have strict rules on importation of tropical timber, and Australia is considering tighter regulation this year. New Zealand could follow.

“It is high time the Government protected the importers who are doing the right thing, by levelling the playing field and prohibiting the importation of all illegal tropical timber,” said Ms Delahunty.

ENDS

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