2.28.2005

Check Your Cabinets

Thank you to OneWorld for the pointer . . .

U.S. Firms Urged to Stop Importing Indonesian Timber
J.R. Pegg
Environment News Service (ENS)
Mon., Feb. 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC, February 25, 2005 (ENS) - BlueLinx, the largest wood distributor in the United States, is importing undocumented timber from Indonesia's critically endangered rainforests, environmentalists said Thursday.

Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) say their investigations prove BlueLinx is knowingly purchasing wood from eight Indonesian mills that have well-documented histories of trafficking in illegal timber.

The Atlanta-based company's Indonesian purchasing policies and practices "constitute crimes against nature and humanity," said Brant Olson, director of RAN's Old Growth Campaign..

"We are calling on the company to stop such activity until there are basic safeguards in place...to ensure the legality of this wood," Olson told reporters via teleconference.

The environmental groups note that other companies--including Centex Corporation, International Paper and Lanoga Corporation--have voluntary agreed to stop buying Indonesian pulp and timber products.

BlueLinx did not return a request for comment . . .

RAN and Greenpeace said they have been unable to track the final destination of the Indonesian timber imported by BlueLinx.

The environment groups are also using the findings of their investigations to criticize financial giant JP Morgan Chase, which has lent BlueLinx some $165 million.

"It is critical to follow the money," said Ilyse Hogue, director of RAN's Global Finance Campaign. "This shows that there is a shocking lack of responsibility and due diligence from JP Morgan Chase." . . .

Illegal logging is rampant in Indonesia, fueled by high demand in consumer nations for cheap timber and carried out by criminal cartels that rely on corrupt government officials.

Indonesian authorities estimate 70 to 90 percent of logging in Indonesia is probably illegal and acknowledge they lack the resources to verify legal exports.

Some 2.6 million hectares of Indonesian land is deforested each year, threatening the remaining 40 million hectares of natural forest--home to millions of indigenous people and a long list of endangered species.

Environmentalists fear Indonesian old growth forests could be wiped out with 15 years if illegal logging is not greatly curtailed.

"Buyers and consumers must recognize and assume responsibility for how their actions contribute to this illegal logging crisis in Indonesia," said Dr. Lisa Curran, director of the Tropical Resources Institute at the Yale School of Forestry. "We must lead by example by implementing independently verified chain-of-custody programs that document the sources of wood products and materials."

The United States is the world's largest importer and consumer of timber and wood products.
[read the whole piece . . .]

Who wooda guessed?