Greenpeace UK today launched a report on Indonesian plywood, while occupying a Government construction site in London that is using plywood from the Indonesian companies RGM and Sumalindo. Following is the Greenpeace UK press release.
GREENPEACE OCCUPIES NEW HOME OFFICE HQ
Government caught trashing Indonesia 's last rainforests
Wednesday 4th June, 2003 - London. At 6am this morning Greenpeace
volunteers occupied the construction site of the new Home Office HQ at 2
Marsham Street, Westminster (1) and declared it an ancient forest crime
scene. Eleven Greenpeace climbers scaled and occupied four huge cranes on
the site and hung banners saying Rainforest Demolition Site .
This action follows a Greenpeace investigation, which documented Government
contractors using illegal and destructively logged plywood from Indonesia 's
last remaining rainforests. The plywood - used for the site hoardings and
to hold wet concrete in place while it sets - has been supplied by timber
barons notorious for illegal logging, environmental destruction, corruption
and human rights abuses.
This directly contravenes commitments by both Prime Minister Tony Blair and
Environment Minister Michael Meacher to only use timber from legal and
sustainable sources on government projects, such as those independently
certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) (2). Only last month,
Meacher confirmed that Government procurement policy on timber applies to
all wood and products made from wood used in performing government
contracts. That includes the wood used temporarily during construction
works as well as wood fixed as part of a finished structure . (3)
The climbers will remain there until Tony Blair agrees to put his words
into action: he must stop his Government buying timber from the trashing of
Indonesia 's rainforests and ensure full implementation of his Government 's
timber procurement policy. Greenpeace also calls on the Prime Minister to
ban the import of illegal timber.
Greenpeace forest campaigner John Sauven said, Tony Blair has pledged time
and again to only buy timber from legal and sustainable sources. Our action
today exposes his continued failure to turn words into deeds .
Trashing Indonesia 's last rainforests to make throwaway plywood to shield
government building projects is like smashing up Stonehenge to make rubble
for road building. What sort of fate is this for the world 's ancient forests?
The action coincides with the launch of a new Greenpeace report, Partners
in crime: a Greenpeace investigation of the links between the UK and
Indonesia 's timber barons , which traces the trade in illegally logged
timber from Indonesia 's rainforests to end users like the UK government and
builders merchants like Jewson and Travis Perkins. The report reveals that
approximately 88% of all wood from Indonesia 's remaining rainforests is set
to come from illegal sources this year. Indeed a recent assessment by the
World Bank and WWF concluded that Probably no log in Indonesia is produced
in a way that is not characterised by the breaking or manipulation of some
Indonesia is suffering the highest rate of forest destruction in the world,
which is driven by demand for cheap timber and paper products. Many of
Indonesia 's unique species depend upon these forests for their survival and
the country now has more species threatened with extinction
than anywhere else on earth, including the orang-utan. The World Bank
recently described Indonesia as facing a species extinction of planetary
proportions and estimated that if the current rate of forest destruction
continues, most of Indonesia 's ancient forests will be logged out by 2010.
The Vice President of the UK Timber Trade Federation admitted, in a recent
letter to members that was leaked to Greenpeace, as many of you will know,
Indonesian mills are not able to provide sufficient evidence of legality
and sustainability for the UK market (4). In January this year Indonesia 's
own Forest Minister stated that allowing the import and trade of illegal
timber products could be considered as an act to assist or even to conduct
forest crime . Yet incredibly, the trade to the UK continues. Approximately
50% of UK tropical plywood imports are from Indonesia's rainforests.
Indonesian companies whose products are being used on the Home Office
construction site include Raja Garuda Mas (RGM) and Sumalindo Lestari Jaya.
RGM produced the plywood used for holding the wet concrete in place. The
group continues to log some of Sumatra 's last remaining lowland
rainforests, the only refuge of the Sumatran orang-utan. Over the winter of
1998/99 one of RGM 's companies called police in to quell community protests
against its seizure of community land in Sumatra: seven people were shot
dead by police; 90 are alleged to have been abducted or tortured; two have
disappeared and five remain blinded or crippled.
Sumalindo produced the rainforest plywood for the hoardings on this site.
The company has a long history of social strife on its concessions, and
just last year workers at its plywood mill went unpaid for four months. It
has been alleged that the company torched plantations in order to get
compensation. The company is partly owned by Bob Hasan, a crony of the
former Indonesian dictator Soeharto, who is in jail for defrauding the
Indonesian Department of Forestry. Sumalindo is currently being taken over
by an Indonesian military front company.
* For more information or to arrange interviews contact Louise Edge on
site on 07801 212993 or 07950 204268 or the Greenpeace press office on 020
7865 8255. Photos and film from the action and of the wildlife, people and
rainforests in Indonesia are also available.
* Full references for this material can be found in the full report
Partners in crime: a Greenpeace investigation of the links between the UK
and Indonesia 's timber barons at www.saveordelete.com. or in the summary
media briefing, available from the press office.
(1) 2 Marsham Street, London SW1 used to be the Department of Environment
HQ. The new headquarters for the Home Office is being built on the site, as
part of a £22.6 million refurbishment. Photographic evidence of all
Indonesian timber used on 2 Marsham Street is available from the Greenpeace
press office. More details are in the Partners in crime report.
(2) FSC certification ensures that timber products come from socially and
environmentally responsible forest management.
(3) From response to written question from Joan Walley, Labour MP for Stoke
on Trent North, 8 May 2003.
(4) Letter of 9 May 2003. Copies available from Greenpeace Press Office.
* The UK Government gives absolute priority to combating the
importation and use of illegally logged timber in the UK. - Michael
Meacher, UK Environment Minister, 2002.
* We have already promised that as a government we will purchase timber
only from legal and sustainable sources - Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister,
* Expecting or asking one country to combat illegal logging while at
the same time , receiving or importing illegal logs does not support
efforts to combat these forests crimes&In fact, allowing the import and
trade of illegal timber products could be considered as an act to assist or
even to conduct forest crime - Muhammed Prakosa, Indonesian Forest
Minister, 26 January 2003.