Monday, November 06, 2017

Major US Plywood Company Implicated in Deforestation

More: A major Dutch timber company, Boogaerdt Hout, was ruled to have marketed illegal teak lumber from Myanmar in violation of EU timber regulations according to the Dutch Food and Safety Authority. The law requires timber companies within the EU to perform due diligence inquiries about the source of lumber sold. Most teak is now plantation grown, but illegal teak still comes from Myanmar where illegal logging is rampant. The country lost 15 million hectares of wooded land between 1990 and 2015. The Dutch government has given the company two months to clear its supply chain of illegal teak or be fined $23,000 per cubic meter of illegal lumber.  A London based NGO, Environmental Investigation Agency provided the evidence against Boogaerdt Hout.  It says 17 other companies have been found guilty of dealing in illegal Burmese teak.  Two EU nations, Italy and Spain, have yet to enforce a ban on importation of Burmese teak which leads to undermining enforcement efforts in Burma.  Myanmar's forests are still home to about 70 critically endangered Indonesian tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti)

{23.10.17}An article posted at last week tells us that a leading US importer of plywood products from Malaysia accepted shipments of product that was unsustainably harvested in the Shin Yang concession, Sarawak, Borneo.  Liberty Woods International, under the Lacey Act is required to not buy illegally logged lumber; however, due diligence is not required by the law. Shin Yang has been repeatedly accused of unsustainable operations and ignoring the rights of indigenous people.  Some of the logs used in Liberty Woods plywood came from within a proposed conservation area known as the Heart of Borneo according to Global Forestry Services, an industry support group.  The US company claims in its advertisements that it "cares about the environment" and that it "seeks out suppliers that are environmentally responsible."  A company representative confirmed to an investigator that the product in the questionable shipment came from lumber that was not certified to be within Shin Yang's legal concession.
deforested land in Heart of Borneo, credit Global Witness

In 2015 an NGO, Global Witness, reported that Shin Yang was clearing nine square kilometers of rain forest per month, equivalent to forty-two soccer fields per month.  The certification process is no guarantee that Malaysian lumber is sustainably harvested.  An open secret in Sarakwak is that concessions could be gained through bribes of Sarakwak's former chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, now the ceremonial head of state.  He left office after 32 years in power, and not before his family amassed a fortune estimated at $15 billion.

Sarawak officials claim that 84% of Sarawak is still forested, but satellite imagery analyzed by Global Witness indicates only 5% of the rain forest remains untouched and only 65% still has natural forest cover.  Between 2000 and 2012 Malaysia had the highest deforestation rate in the world.  Lumber trade associations counsel their members, like Liberty Woods, to conduct compliance investigations when purchasing "high-risk" lumber commodities such as Meranti plywood from Malaysia.  US Person, aka "turtle man" advises you to know your wood before you buy and buy only sustainable products.