Fighting for ecological justice

Stemming The Tide

Stolen timber worth almost two and a half billion dollars is traded between the countries of East and South-East Asia each year. China, which consumes timber from some of the countries most badly affected by illegal logging, is reckoned to be the largest consumer of illegal timber in the world, while Indonesia is the largest tropical supplier. It is clear that if illegal logging is to be effectively countered, the countries of this region must work together.

EIA and Telapak’s investigations over the past five years have spanned the region and provide a unique knowledge of this trade and attempts to tackle it. Drawing on this experience, this briefing uses specific case studies to illustrate options for action. Though solutions must necessarily begin with improved enforcement in producer countries against illegal cutting and export of timber, this document focuses on how regional consumer and processing states can work with producer countries to help stem the tide.

The countries of South-East Asia are some of the hardest hit by illegal logging. By the mid-nineties 95 per cent of Asia’s frontier forests were gone. Eighty per cent or more of all timber production in Indonesia is thought to be illicit, as is more than two-thirds of logging in Papua New Guinea. The American Forest & Paper Association estimate that ten per cent of Malaysian log exports are of suspicious origin.6 These three countries between them account for 60 per cent of worldwide exports of tropical logs, while the two biggest importers of tropical wood – China and Japan – are also in the region. Altogether, sixty percent of tropical timber in international trade moves between the countries of South-East and East Asia, and it can be estimated that a total of over nine million cubic metres of illegal tropical logs, sawn-timber and plywood worth 2.3 billion dollars was traded within the region in 2003. At least a quarter of this timber was illegally exported….see attached document



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