Logging in Malaysian Borneo.
The production and trade in ‘sustainable’ timber products in Southeast Asia is mostly ‘a mirage’ due to questionable forestry practices and loopholes in import regulations, alleges a new report from Friends of the Earth International.
The report, ‘Sustainable’ tropical timber production, trade and procurement’, focuses on logging in Malaysia and timber import laws in Japan, South Korea, and Australia. It says declining timber production in Malaysia shows that current management practices are inherently unsustainable, depleting future generations of natural resources. Worse is the environmental damage being wrought to the region’s rich forests and the deprivations suffered by indigenous communities, especially in the state of Sarawak, where forest dwellers have been forced off their traditional lands.
“We are witnessing a global depletion of natural timber resources and sustainable tropical timber remains essentially a mirage,” said Meenakshi Raman, Honorary Secretary of Friends of the Earth Malaysia, in a statement.
While several key importing nations seem to have in place regulations that would protect against such abuses, the report argues they have have not “resulted in meaningful changes on the ground”. A chief issue has been a focus on legality of timber supplies, rather than safeguarding human rights or ensuring sustainability.
“A disproportionate amount of emphasis seems to have been focused on eliminating the trade of illegal timber, at the expense of the efforts to ensure the sustainable production and consumption of tropical timber products,” states the report. “Consumer countries have also failed to reduce their tropical timber consumption levels to more sustainable levels.”
Logging in Malaysia
The report urges policymakers in consuming countries to adopt policies that move beyond a strict focus on legality by incorporating human rights, good governance, and environmental performance into their regulatory frameworks for timber and wood products imports. Accordingly, Friends of the Earth International lays out what it views would be a good definition for “legal and sustainable” timber from Malaysia as well as specific recommendations for strengthening import policies for Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
“For policy to be able to address the reality on the ground, it cannot afford to ignore systemic corruption, the violations of human rights as well as unsustainable production and consumption patterns,” says the report. “Policy has to be fully grounded on governance transparency and a real understanding on the ecology of natural resources as well as the human lives it affects.”
CITATION Friends of the Earth (2013). From policy to reality: ‘Sustainable’ tropical timber production, trade and procurement.
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Malaysia clearcutting forest reserves for timber and palm oil
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NGO hits out at study for downplaying logging threat in Congo rainforest
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80% of rainforests in Malaysian Borneo logged
(07/17/2013) 80 percent of the rainforests in Malaysian Borneo have been heavily impacted by logging, finds a comprehensive study that offers the first assessment of the spread of industrial logging and logging roads across areas that were considered some of Earth’s wildest lands less than 30 years ago. The research, conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Tasmania, University of Papua New Guinea, and the Carnegie Institution for Science, is based on analysis of satellite data using Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite (CLASlite), a freely available platform for measuring deforestation and forest degradation. It estimated the state of the region’s forests as of 2009.
Industrial logging leaves a poor legacy in Borneo’s rainforests
(07/17/2012) For most people “Borneo” conjures up an image of a wild and distant land of rainforests, exotic beasts, and nomadic tribes. But that place increasingly exists only in one’s imagination, for the forests of world’s third largest island have been rapidly and relentlessly logged, burned, and bulldozed in recent decades, leaving only a sliver of its once magnificent forests intact. Flying over Sabah, a Malaysian state that covers about 10 percent of Borneo, the damage is clear. Oil palm plantations have metastasized across the landscape. Where forest remains, it is usually degraded. Rivers flow brown with mud.
Charts: deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, 2000-2010
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Google Earth reveals stark contrast between Sarawak’s damaged forests and those in neighboring Borneo states
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