Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Media Release: Tropical Timber Importers urged to ban all kwila imports

Indonesia Human Rights Committee And Rainforest Action, Auckland,

6 June, 2011

The Indonesia Human Rights Group and Rainforest Action commend the New Zealand Imported Tropical Timber Group (NZITTG) for its recent initiative in setting up a voluntary code of practice concerning illegally logged wood. From September NZITTG members will only import tropical timber products which have ‘credible third party verification of their legality of source.’

This is a step in the right direction, but we now urge the NZITTG to consider an additional ban on all imports of the tropical hardwood kwila, whether or not is certified ‘legal’.

Most of the kwila coming into this country comes from Indonesian controlled West Papua. It is a species under threat of extinction within a generation; it is sparse growing and takes up to 80 years to grow to maturity.

The NZITTG code will reduce the amount of kwila being imported, but under the proposed code of practice some kwila may still be imported to New Zealand.

A certificate of legality does not ensure that the product comes from a sustainably managed forest. Moreover, Indonesia’s regulatory system is weak and vulnerable to corrupt practices. The authorities are subject to huge pressure to allow forest clearance for the sake of lucrative palm oil plantations.

In Aotearoa we don’t log kauri to preserve the forests that remain, to be morally consistent we should be just as respectful of old growth forests in West Papua.

In the last 15 years millions of hectares of West Papua’s old growth forests have been felled – some 25 % of the total forest area. Military personnel are employed as security for legal and illegal logging operations and indigenous Papuans have no say over resource extraction.

The ITTG is made up of a number of organisations including major retailers Bunnings, Mitre 10, Carters, ITM and Placemakers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Kwila for Christmas - protest in Wellington against sale of endangered species

Media Release
Rainforest Action
10am, 16 December 2010

No Kwila for Christmas - protest in Wellington against sale of endangered species

At 2pm on Thursday 16th of December, a protest organised by Rainforest Action will take place outside Fifth Avenue Furniture and Design at 230 Thorndon Quay, Wellington.

Protestors – including Green MP Catherine Delahunty and an orang-utan – will be noisily calling attention to the store’s sales of products made from kwila, an endangered species of timber that grows in the tropical rainforests of south-east Asia.

Kwila continues to be on the World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Species because it faces a "high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future". There is no current government regulation on the sale of unsustainably logged timber in New Zealand. Rainforest advocates have focused on Kwila because according to Government research it makes up 80% of illegally-sourced imported wood products into New Zealand.

This is the second event to occur this Summer as part of Rainforest Action’s ‘Don’t Buy Kwila’.

“As summer heats up, so does the sale of outdoor furniture and decking materials. Concerned consumers need to let retailers know that kwila products are not the way to go,” said Rainforest Action spokesperson Liz Willoughby-Martin.

“Tropical deforestation is one of the leading contributors to greehouse gas emissions and species extinction. But logging kwila is not only environmentally unsustainable; it also threatens the health, culture and livelihoods of people in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and West Papua.

“Relaxing in the sun doesn’t have to mean the destruction of rainforests. We will be demonstrating today to encourage furniture retailers and consumers to think about sustainability before buying and selling outdoor furniture this summer. We want retailers to leave the Kwila in the rainforests this Christmas.”


For comment please contact:
Liz Willoughby-Martin on 021 118 0335

Visit for further information.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Auckland & Wellington: Campaign against Kwila furniture continues

Saturday, December 18, 12 noon, 533 Mt Eden Rd, Auckland Don’t Buy Kwila campaign continues.

Auckland stores are continuing to sell kwila furniture, despite sustained lobbying about the destructive impact deforestation has in West Papua, where most of the Kwila originates.

The NZ Government is also stalling on moves to ban the entry of illegally logged wood, and although Government acknowledges that Kwila is a threatened species it is not taking effective steps to protect Kwila.

Therefore we need to take action.

Please join us to give a peaceful reminder to “Country Road” furniture store 12 noon Saturday 18 December, 2010. Christmas is definitely not the time to trade in plundered rainforest kwila!

For further information:

Thursday December 16, 2pm, Fifth Avenue Furniture and Design, 230 Thorndon Quay, Wellington Don't Buy Kwila campaign continues

It’s that time of the year again, when kwila and other illegally logged and unsustainable hardwoods turn up in outdoor furniture shops across the country.

Rainforest Action are organising a protest outside Fifth Avenue Furniture and Design, 230 Thorndon Quay, Wellington at 2pm on Thursday 16th December. Let’s let the owners know it’s not okay to sell kwila – and educate passer-by as we go.

With protest action and consumer pressure, Rainforest Action Group, IHRC, and others have already convinced lots of large retailers of outdoor furniture and decking to stop selling kwila.

Support the people of Papua New Guinea and West Papua. Deforestation is a massive contributor to global climate change and species loss.

"Stop buying kwila. Support indigenous people. Destruction of the forest is like killing people because they lose everything. They cannot have food, they can't get water. Logging companies pollute the water too."

For more information:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trade Me to tweak rules around sale of kwila

Wednesday, 6 October 2010, 10:23 am
Press Release: Green Party

Trade Me to tweak rules around sale of kwila

Online marketplace Trade Me is moving to regulate the trade of new kwila furniture or decking products, following discussions with the Green Party and a coalition of non-governmental organisations.

Kwila (also known as merbau) is an endangered rainforest timber. It is a sparse growing hardwood that takes 75 years to grow to maturity and could be extinct in 35 years if current rates of logging continue.

Trade Me said it made sense to bring the site’s restrictions in line with moves toward robust certification in other countries.

Under the new rules, Trade Me will only allow new kwila furniture or decking products to be sold that has been certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Green Party MP and forestry spokesperson Catherine Delahunty, Rainforest Action and the Indonesia Human Rights Committee approached Trade Me in May calling for an end to the sale of kwila products via the site.

“Trade Me has shown a strong commitment to stop the sale of new illegally and unsustainably logged kwila products,” said Ms Delahunty.

“The rainforests are the lungs of the world. We need them to avoid the worst outcomes of climate change. They are the home of indigenous peoples and endangered species.”

Many other countries have already regulated against endangered and illegally harvested rainforest timber, including the USA and the European Union.

The new government in Australia made an election promise to ban the importation of illegally logged timber.

“In New Zealand we only have voluntary guidelines, and the Green Party believes that FSC is the only truly robust certification. The Government can significantly improve the scrutiny of timber entering the country.

“The Green Party is delighted that Trade Me has stepped up to the challenge, and hopes the Government will assist ethical companies and our own forestry industry by regulating this destructive trade.”


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Protest at Wellington Bunnings over sale of kwila

Media Release: Wellington Rainforest Action Group
Protest at Wellington Bunnings over sale of endangered species

At 12noon on Saturday 2nd October a protest organised by Rainforest Action Wellington will take place outside the Tory Street store of Bunnings Warehouse in the Wellington CBD, calling attention to the store’s sales of unsustainably logged timber products.

The picket marks the start of Rainforest Action's Summer 2011 campaign to raise timber and furniture customer awareness of the issues associated with rainforest destruction. Previous actions have focused on other companies trading Kwila including BBQ Warehouse, Design Warehouse, 4 Seasons Furniture and TradeMe.

Kwila is an endangered tree found primarily in West Papua and Papua New Guinea. There is no current government regulation on the sale of illegally logged timber in New Zealand. Rainforest advocates have focused on Kwila because according to Government research it makes up 80% of illegally-sourced imported wood products into New Zealand.

Kwila continues to be on the World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Species because it faces a "high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future".

“The logging of Kwila threatens to make the tree extinct in the wild, contributes to climate change through deforestation and has resulted in indigenous people being forced from their lands. Human rights groups have documented the imprisonment and torture of locals who dare to resist the logging” said Rainforest Action spokesperson Liz Willoughby-Martin. “While Bunnings Warehouse state they source Kwila timber products through Tropical Forest Trust (TFT) and Verified Legal Origin (VLO) forest projects, this does not mean the timber is logged sustainably or justly.

“The logging of Kwila cannot be sustainable. Kwila is an endangered species which will vanish completely in 35 years if current rates of logging continue. On top of this, a significant amount of New Zealand-bound Kwila is exported from West Papua, a province colonised by Indonesia.

“Bunnings Warehouse is planning to slowly introduce other outdoor furniture timber options into the store’s range, but unfortunately this will not be fast enough to save the Papuan rainforest.”

"Bunnings Warehouse needs to broaden their “zero tolerance” approach to illegal logging to include endangered, unsustainable and unjustly logged timber products such as Kwila," Willoughby-Martin concluded.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Say No To Kwila protest: Saturday the 2nd of October @ Noon

Say No To Kwila protest: Saturday the 2nd of October @ Noon.
Meet outside Bunnings Warehouse, 46 - 56 Tory Street, Wellington

*Bring a whistle and wear green*

It's estimated that Kwila trees (mainly from Papua New Guinea and WestPapua) will go extinct in 35 years if current rates of loggingcontinue. The use of illegally logged Kwila results in speciesextinctions, contributes to climate change and creates human rights abuses. Human rights groups have documented the torture and imprisonment of indigenous people who have resisted.

In the past, Rainforest Action protests have led to New Zealand retailers stopping the sale of Kwila products. We need to take astrong stand to halt the destruction of the Papuan rainforest the illegal logging and call on Bunnings Warehouse to SAY NO TO KWILA!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bunnings responds

Below is the response from Bunnings to our letter to them:

Bunnings would like to let people know that we have operated a zero tolerance approach to illegal logging for many years and we do not understand why we are being associated with these claims by the Rainforest Action Group.

Please read our recent response to RAG and make up your own mind. We welcome your contact via our website on this issue and would be happy to discuss any concerns or queries on this issue.

Dear Omar,

Thank you for your letter dated 7th September regarding concerns surrounding the sale of timber products made from kwila.

Bunnings has an absolute “zero tolerance” to illegal timber and we share the concerns that you raise in relation to illegally logged Kwila.

Bunnings has been committed to real action on this issue for almost a decade now. We began working with Greenpeace in 2001 and first introduced our sustainable timber purchasing policy in 2003. Since then Indonesian Kwila and indeed all tropical hardwoods from South East Asian forests have been a focal point of our actions.

In 2006 we began a third party Verified Legal Origin (VLO) pilot program targeting key Kwila decking suppliers in Indonesia. This identified opportunities and pitfalls within those supply chains and where a VLO CoC or alternatively a Tropical Forest Trust source was achievable.

This pilot led to Bunnings implementing a specific requirement for all 100 per cent tropical timber products to achieve a minimum of VLO by January 2009. This result has been substantially achieved in relation to Kwila products in New Zealand and we continue to raise the bar by challenging our suppliers to transition from VLO to “Credibly Certified” status.

We are proud of this achievement and the fact that our policy has been able to influence positive change in Malaysian and Indonesian forests.

As quoted in the June 2006 independent report “A Review of the Current Policies & Practices Employed by Timber and Timber Product Importers to Determine the Legality of Supply”, funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry:

“The key driver identified for the adoption of written policy and practices to determine legality was an annual survey undertaken by a major customer, Bunnings, to support their Timber and Wood Purchasing Policy. This market based driver has been very successful. Many of the timber importers nominated their reason for having a procurement policy was due to this initiative by Bunnings.”

As an example of this in New Zealand, since 2009 all Bunnings Kwila outdoor furniture has been sourced exclusively from suppliers who are members of the Tropical Forest Trust and are progressing with action plans under the guidance of the TFT to ultimately achieve FSC certification.

We have always taken a collaborative approach on these issues and have actively sought the advice of Greenpeace, WWF, and other accredited bodies, who have assisted with framing a policy for imported tropical hardwoods.

Further to active involvement in the NZTTIG over many years, Bunnings is also part of the WWF Global Forest Trade Network and joined Greenpeace Australia as the leading retail signatory to a joint letter calling the Australian Government to regulate illegal timber imports in June 2009. We are hopeful that this legislation will be passed in Australia which may assist the New Zealand Government in framing a similar approach.

Bunnings remains committed to providing products for our customers that originate from legal and well managed forests, and we believe that customers and team members have a right to demand this of us. While we make no claim to be perfect we are sincere in our efforts to do the right thing and reduce our impact on the environment.

We believe that the best way of achieving this goal is through engaging with suppliers of tropical timber products so we remain in a strong position to influence better forest practices and outcomes for local communities.

If you wish to discuss this matter in more detail please feel free to contact our New Zealand General Manager, Rod Caust or myself.

Kind Regards,

John Gillam

Managing Director

Bunnings Group Limited