Well done, Trade Me... but let’s fix this once and for all

06 October 2010

Trade Me’s decision to require sellers of new kwila furniture or decking timber to prove it comes from sustainably managed forests is a very positive step towards ensuring that all these products come from legal sources, says Forest Owners Association president Peter Berg.

“Also, most major outdoor furniture and hardware suppliers – including the Warehouse, Bunnings, Carters, Mitre 10 and Placemakers – have signed a charter that commits them to sourcing wood products from certified, legal and sustainable sources. That leaves only a number of smaller retailers who are unwilling to act on this matter and the sooner we bring them into line the better for the remaining areas of kwila," Mr Berg says.

“Not only does continued trade in illegally harvested timber undermine the rest of the timber business, it also countenances a business that breeds corruption and results in deforestation, the destruction of widlife and violence against indigenous people living in tropical forests. Regulations are now needed to finally stop this trade."

In Australia the Labor-led Coalition Government is continuing to work on comprehensive legislation that will require retailers to prove that all forest products they sell come from legal and sustainable sources. That will mean having certification from a reputable independent body like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

The draft legislation – which will put Australia in line with the United States, the European Union and a growing number of other countries – covers all forest products, not just outdoor furniture and decking. Wooden tool and drawer handles, paper and packaging, are all included.

“Closing off the markets for illegally logged products is our preferred tool to halt this business once and for all. It is disappointing that New Zealand, which has such a good story to tell about sustainable forestry at home, has until now been slow to do anything really meaningful.  So I compliment Trade-Me for the leadership they have shown and I hope the policy is picked up enthusiastically by the entire community,” Mr Berg says.

He says the New Zealand forest industry is committed to sustainable forestry and “illegal logging is not sustainable”. It also unfairly sullies the reputation of wood and forest products from New Zealand’s sustainably managed plantation forests.

“Sometimes all it takes is a little people-power to achieve the right goal; I hope this will be enough to encourage the government to put a permanent ban in place, but I meanwhile urge all consumers to ask retailers to provide evidence that decking timber, outdoor furniture and other forest products, like fire logs, come from legal sources before they buy.”

For more information, please contact Peter Berg, Tel 021 421 291