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Action not words needed on illegal logging

Action not words is needed on illegal logging and the importation of products from it, Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

"For example, the Government should immediately suspend kwila timber imports until a regime of proving their source is in place. Kwila is commonly sold in New Zealand as outdoor furniture and the 'season' for large quantities of such imports is just about to begin," he says.

Referring to an illegal logging study and statement issued by Forestry Minister Jim Anderton today, Dr Norman says he is disappointed Mr Anderton wants more consultation rather than taking action.

"His Labour coalition partners promised in their 2002 manifesto they would 'work towards ensuring that only sustainably produced timber is imported into New Zealand', but since 2002 the amount of illegal and unsustainable timber imports have increased," Dr Norman says.

Yesterday the Greens started a campaign against illegal and unsustainable logging of tropical forests and today Dr Norman said one immediate move the Government could make was to suspend the importation of kwila, which often arrives as furniture and decking timber, until the Government could prove or otherwise that it came from sustainable sources. This would need an independently verified chain of traceability.

"The present government policy of 'discouraging' the importation of illegal wood means nothing when there is little or no real border control against it," Dr Norman says. "In 2006 this country imported around $236 million in wood furniture and furniture parts, including $108 million from China (an importer of substantial quantities of illegally logged timber), $35 million from Malaysia (with many companies involved in illegal logging around South East Asia and the Pacific) and $12 million from Indonesia (where illegal logging is pervasive). This $236 million compares to $90 million of a couple of years before.

"It has come at the expense not only of the New Zealand timber industry but also of wildlife, human rights of indigenous people and the health of the planet, climate wise," Dr Norman says. "New Zealanders who buy kwila furniture and a government that allows its importation should note that most of this tropical timber comes from West Papua and Papua New Guinea where landowners are forced off traditional homes and environmental controls are absent."

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