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Govt should ban kwila imports now

Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Box 68-419

22 August, 2007

Media Release: Government should ban kwila imports now –not when it is extinct!

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is shocked at the Government’s weak and muted response to the global scourge of deforestation. A new report details the vast extent of illegal logging practices and identifies Indonesia as the country which on a proportional basis has the largest harvest of illegal timber. The Government has it in its power to monitor timber imports and to ban suspect wood, but it says it won’t regulate until other countries agree. Meanwhile it is only proposing to “consult” importers and retailers and Forestry Minister Anderton advises consumer caution. [1]

“Tropical deforestation is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions and New Zealand has a responsibility to play its part in ending this crime against the planet,” said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee. “New Zealand is importing large quantities of the tropical hardwood kwila from West Papua despite the risk to one of the world’s last stands of pristine old growth forest. West Papua, home to unique species of birds, plants and animals is considered a treasure trove of biodiversity. Indigenous communities have no power to stop the rapacious loggers from polluting and devastating their traditional lands and waterways.”

Last summer the Indonesia Human Rights Committee conducted a retail survey and found that Auckland was awash with outdoor furniture and decking made from kwila sourced from Indonesian controlled West Papua. Kwila has already been stripped out of the rest of Indonesia and other South East Asian nations and there is a strong international drive for kwila to be listed as an endangered species. Greenpeace estimates that the wood is only 35 years away from extinction as a species.

“Indonesian leaders from the Minister of the Environment to the Governor of West Papua are calling for international help to combat the illegal trade, which amounts to up to 80 % of all the logging trade in Indonesia. The problem is a bit like the drug trade – it is driven by the western demand for the product.”

“It is time for firm action – so we are urging the Minister and Government to place an immediate ban on the import of kwila.”


[1] US Senator John Kerry has put forward legislation which would ban the import and sale of illegally logged timber in the US – it includes heafty fines for offenders.

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