China’s Olympics may destroy New Guinea’s rainforests
May 1, 2006
Construction for the 2008 Olympics in China may fuel deforestation in New Guinea according to an article published last week in the Jakarta Post.
The article reports that a Chinese company has asked the Indonesian government for permission to establish a timber processing factory in Indonesia’s Papua province to produce 800,000 cubic meters of merbau timber in time for the Olympic games to be held in Bejing. Merbau — a dark hardwood found in the rainforests of New Guinea — is used for hardwood floors and currently commands prices of up to US$138 per square meter, making the proposal potentially worth more than a billion dollars.
Environmental groups are concerned that a new timber processing factory would hasten the destruction of the island’s highly biodiverse ecosystems.
“An investment of this size will only serve to legitimize and further fuel illegal, highly unsustainable, and ecologically devastating logging,” said Glenn Barry, a forest activist who has launched a campaign to block the project. “It is against the Olympic ideals of bringing ‘people together in peace to respect universal moral principles’ when the events are housed in facilities constructed with ancient rainforest timbers of questionable legality and morality.”
The Olympics has only added to the building frenzy currently occurring across China’s cities. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), China’s demand for imported industrial wood — timber, paper and pulp — will grow by at least 33 percent within the next five years, from the current 94 million cubic meters to 125 million cubic meters. Green groups allege that much of this wood — including “almost all of the estimated 300,000 cubic meters of merbau smuggled out of Papua every month” according to the Post article — comes from illegal sources. Environmentalists say that American consumers are even unwittingly involved in the illegal trafficking of Papuan timber by purchasing mislabeled merbau flooring products distributed by large retailers across the United States.
Home Depot, Lowe’s selling illegal wood from Papua New Guinea-Report
Consumers in the United States are being mislead as to the origin of merbau hardwood flooring being sold by Home Depot and Lowe’s. According to a new report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency and their Indonesian NGO partner Telepak, such timber is coming from the forests of Indonesia’s remote Papua Province, where 80 percent of logging is estimated to be illegal.
Papua New Guinea’s forests under threat from corruption, illegal logging
Illegal logging is destroying large areas of rainforest in Papua New Guinea according to a report released last week by Forest Trends, a leading international forestry organization. The 5-year survey, Logging, Legality, and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea, found foreign timber firms — predominantly Malaysian—flaunt existing forestry laws thanks to widespread corruption. Papua New Guinea is consistently rated as one of the world’s most corrupt countries by Transparency International.
Pictures of newly discovered species in New Guinea
A team of scientists led by Conservation International (CI) found dozens of new species in a survey of New Guinea’s Foja Mountains. The December 2005 trip by a team of U.S., Indonesian, and Australian scientists discovered new species of frogs, butterflies, plants, and an orange-faced honeyeater, the first new bird from the island of New Guinea in more than 60 years.
Hardwood flooring linked to illegal timber smuggling ring, says group
Environmentalists today revealed how hardwood flooring sold across the U.S. is linked to the world’s largest illegal timber smuggling operation. Following two years of undercover investigations, The Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-profit group, has exposed how a leading distributor of hardwood flooring, Goodfellow Inc., is selling flooring made from logs illegally felled in Papua province of Indonesia.
Timber hungry China moves into Africa
China, as the fastest growing economy in the world, is poised to make significant impacts on the global market and the global environment, especially with its expanding involvement with nations rich in natural resources but deficient in economic and political stability. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Africa where China has rapidly bolstered its ties in recent years with the majority of the continent’s 54 nations.