Proposed new wood products legislation does not address critical issues of deforestation and human rights abuses associated with products imported into Aotearoa, says Greenpeace.
The government’s Forest (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in parliament last night and focuses on the legal harvest of wood products exported and imported into Aotearoa New Zealand.
"This Bill completely misses the boat on dealing with New Zealand’s responsibility for the destruction of forests and associated human rights abuses. We are in a climate emergency and yet the scope of the bill is only on the legality of wood products," says Greenpeace forests campaigner Grant Rosoman.
"Deforestation is a critical issue for climate, biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ rights. There is a range of different imported commodities that are drivers of deforestation, including chocolate, palm oil, palm kernel expeller (PKE), rubber and coffee, yet the Bill ignores them," he says.
The world’s forests are home to millions of indigenous people and their protection is critical in the fight against climate change and as vital habitat for biodiversity such as orangutans, gorillas, birds of paradise, and fungi. Deforestation contributes 10 to 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and between 1990 and 2020, some 420 million hectares of forest have disappeared - an area 15 times the size of Aotearoa.
"We have to move quickly to protect forests and indigenous peoples by stopping the import of products that come from deforestation. The destruction of tropical forests may seem far away from us but our contribution to it is in our homes and the products we buy," says Rosoman.
Greenpeace Aotearoa has called for the phase-out of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) due to links to rainforest destruction as well as the role it plays in supporting the intensive dairy industry.
The European Commission is in the process of finalising a new law stopping the import of products into the EU that come from deforestation (whether legal or not), forest degradation and human rights abuses. The scope of the law includes wood products, palm oil, cocoa, coffee, soya and beef, and their derivatives.
"The New Zealand Government can play a part by passing a law to ensure that products entering Aotearoa (including products the Government procures) are not contributing to the loss of the Earth's most precious forests," says Rosoman.
As the Bill was read in Parliament last night, Greenpeace launched a petition calling for the Government to stop the importation of products to Aotearoa New Zealand associated with forest destruction and human rights abuse by broadening the scope of the Forest (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill. Over 2,500 people have signed the petition already.