Environmentalists winning fight against illegal ramin timber trade
July 8, 2007
The HUTAN Group, a forest conservation NGO, says an international campaign to stop the import and use of ramin in Japan has resulted in a significant decline in the trade of the tree species, commerce in which was restricted in 2001 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
"Some 500 companies that had accounted for approximately 95% of ramin use in Japan had stopped the import and use of ramin by April 2007," the HUTAN Group group said in a statement. "By 2006 year about 80% of companies importing ramin in Singapore had also halted ramin imports. Due to the hard work of Telapak [an Indonesian environmental lobby group] and EIA [an international NGO], many importers in Johor Bahru in Peninsular Malaysia also stopped dealing in ramin."
The group says efforts by the Indonesian government also appear to be making it more difficult for traders to sell the illicit wood.
Orangutan in Borneo
While the results with ramin are positive, the NGO added that illegal logging and trading of merbau, ulin and other scarce species is still a problem.
"We call upon Governments, the United Nations, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the FAO, the World Bank, NGOs and corporations to cooperate in completely abolishing such illegal trade," it said.
Illegal ramin logging was blamed for large-scale destruction of Tanjung Puting National Park in southern Kalimantan on the island of Borneo shortly after the downfall of ex-president Suharto. Orangutan researcher Biruté Mary Galdikas estimates that $120 million of ramin were removed from the park each year.
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