Updated: May 22, 2006
Beijing Olympic plans a disaster for West Papua rainforest
22nd May 2006
Plans to use 800,000 cubic meters of rainforest timber in the construction of sports facilities for the 2008 Beijing Olympics have been condemned as a disaster for the rainforest by The Wilderness Society.
TWS is urging the Government of China and the International Olympic Committee to ensure that plans to use Indonesian Merbau timber are shelved and that alternative products such as fiber board sourced from FSC certified plantations is used instead.
It is reported that a state-owned Chinese company plans to invest one billion US dollars in the construction of a timber processing plant and in the purchase of Merbau timber in the province of West Papua in Indonesia and that Indonesian Forestry Minister Malem Sambat Kaban has already indicated his consent for this plan.
The Indonesian Government, however, is well aware of the destructive impact of industrial logging in West Papua. In March 2005, the Indonesian President ordered a moratorium on most logging operations in West Papua, due to widespread theft, corruption and environmental damage.
Similarly across the border in Papua New Guinea, government reviews have found that almost all logging operations are illegal and do not meet basic environmental standards.
Sourcing 800,000 cubic meters of timber could lead to the destruction of more than 100,000 hectares of forest and will only fuel further unlawful and unsustainable timber harvestings says The Wilderness Society.
The Wilderness Society is calling on the International Olympic Committee to intervene if the Chinese government does not revise its plans and points out that the destruction of forests and denial of sustainable livelihoods is incompatible with the Olympic spirit and a breach of the Olympic Charter (which contains a clear commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainable development).
TWS points out that the Sydney Olympics provided an excellent precedent by adopting a wood procurement policy that prioritized building designs that used little wood or used recycled wood and wood from plantations instead of wood from natural forests.
The island of New Guinea is the only region in the world where large volumes of Merbau trees still grow and as there are no plantations of Merbau trees all Merbau timber comes from natural forests. The species is classified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as a "vulnerable species" and the ancient forests of West Papua and New Guinea are home to more than hundreds of distinct populations of indigenous peoples and are amongst the most biologically diverse forests on earth.
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Inc