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Profiting from Plunder

Profiting from Plunder

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Published by Perkumpulan Telapak
Indonesia is suffering rampant illegal logging which threatens to destroy its precious forests within a few years, and this devastation is being fuelled by uncontrolled
demand for cheap tropical timber in consuming countries.
Hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal Indonesian timber are estimated to be
entering neighbouring Malaysia each year,
providing cheap raw materials to a
voracious wood industry which can no longer be sustained by the country’s own dwindling forest estate.
Indonesia is suffering rampant illegal logging which threatens to destroy its precious forests within a few years, and this devastation is being fuelled by uncontrolled
demand for cheap tropical timber in consuming countries.
Hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal Indonesian timber are estimated to be
entering neighbouring Malaysia each year,
providing cheap raw materials to a
voracious wood industry which can no longer be sustained by the country’s own dwindling forest estate.

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Published by: Perkumpulan Telapak on Jun 26, 2008
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06/14/2009

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Profiting from Plunder
How Malaysia Smuggles Endangered Wood
 
Front cover (main picture):
© Kirsten Tuson/Orangutan Foundation;
(insets):
© A.Valentinus/Environmental Investigation Agency/ Telapak; © Environmental Investigation Agency/Telapak; © David Sims/Environmental Investigation Agency/Telapak 
Front cover (main picture): 
Raft of illegal logs in Tanjung Puting NationalPark
Front cover (Insets): 
Illegal logger in Indonesian National Park; Containership at Johor Port, Malaysia; Ramin wood blinds on sale in the UK
 
Executive Summary
Indonesia is suffering rampant illegallogging which threatens to destroy itsprecious forests within a few years, and thisdevastation is being fuelled by uncontrolleddemand for cheap tropical timber inconsuming countries.Hundreds of millions of dollars of illegalIndonesian timber are estimated to beentering neighbouring Malaysia each year,providing cheap raw materials to avoracious wood industry which can nolonger be sustained by the country’s owndwindling forest estate.One particularly vulnerable tree speciesbeing illegally logged in Indonesia’sprecious National Parks is ramin, a valuableblond hardwood. In an attempt to garnerthe support of the world community incombating illegal ramin trade, in 2001 theGovernment of Indonesia listed ramin on aninternational convention designed to controlthe trade in endangered species – theConvention on International Trade inEndangered Species (CITES).Since 2001 the Environmental InvestigationAgency (EIA) and Telapak have repeatedlyexposed how, despite being a signatory toCITES, Malaysia is wilfully failing touphold its international commitments, andthat illegal Indonesian ramin continues tobe traded through the country withimpunity.Yet our previous findings pale intoinsignificance in light of recent EIA/ Telapak undercover investigations exposingwholesale laundering of ramin throughMalaysia on an unprecedented scale. Thesehave revealed how thousands of tonnes of endangered wood is being smuggled acrossthe border every month by organisedcriminals and provided with documentsincluding CITES permits certifying it asMalaysian origin – all this despiteMalaysian promises to halt the trade.Malaysia lies at the hub of a multi-milliondollar web of illegal ramin trading whichspans the globe and is being activelyfacilitated by local officials. As a result,products including baby furniture and poolcues made from stolen wood are reachingthe homes of unsuspecting consumers in theEU, USA and around the world.
Introduction 1The Illegal Logging Scandal 4Ramin Wood & CITES 5An Appetite for Forest Destruction 6Malaysia’s Reliance on Illegal Ramin 8Recommendations 20References 21
NEW CASE STUDIES 
A: Johor Port—A Lesson in Laundering 11B: Sarawak—State Sanctioned Smuggling 15C: Illegal Malaysian Ramin Baby Furniture 18
 
Acknowledgements
EIA and Telapak would like to thank The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, TheSigrid Rausing Trust, and other donors for their generous support of our work,though it should not be implied that these groups share the views expressed withinthis report.EIA and Telapak would also like to thank the many community groups, individualsand NGOs working together with EIA/Telapak on the illegal logging issue.Written, researched and designed by Sam Lawson.Additional research and editing by Arbi Valentinus, Dave Currey, Hapsoro, JulianNewman, Mardi Minangsari, Pallavi Shah, Sascha von Bismarck, Vanessa Freyand Yayat Afianto.Many thanks to all at Emmerson Press for the printing of this report (EmmersonPress Tel: +44 1926 854400). Printed on 100% recycled paper.
Contents
 
Introduction
Never before has the international timberbusiness been under so much scrutiny. Thisfollows decades of an unregulated andunscrupulous abuse of forests and tradingmechanisms. Many importers admit to ‘notwanting to know’ where their supplies camefrom or how they were acquired. But in thelast few years the international communityhas started to tackle the complex issues of sustainability and legality of supplies with adetermination that was previously lacking.The Indonesian Ministry of Forestryreleased figures towards the end of 2003 thatput the rate of forest loss in the country at3.8 million hectares per year – by far theworst in the world.
(1)
In an attempt to tacklean accelerating disaster, governments, civilsociety representatives, and some parts of the timber industry have focussed on thebasic issue of legality of supplies. Withillegal logging rampant throughout the worldthere is a strong recognition that the socialand environmental impact of this scourge aretoo huge to ignore, and the criminalsyndicates behind commercial illegallogging are growing in power as the forestsare shrinking.EIA and Telapak have repeatedly exposedthe criminals behind this multi-billion dollarindustry. In this report we expose the largestever smuggling operation of the valuableand protected tree species ramin to Malaysia.This shocking evidence highlightsIndonesia’s continuing failure to bring to justice timber barons who supply andtransport this illegal timber and Malaysia’scallous complicity in protecting its ownramin processing industry. In Indonesiathese criminals operate with high-levelprotection and we can only deduct thatIndonesia’s apparent inability to deal withthem is because their supporters aremembers of the political and military elite.Indonesia’s enforcement failures areevident in all parts of society, but Malaysia’sare not typical of this tightly controlledregime. It is hoped that the new Malaysianadministration under Prime MinisterAbdullah Ahmad Badawi can break awayfrom the typical official denial and actuallydeal with its appalling failure to supportinternational efforts to prevent trade inillegally sourced timber.There are few mechanisms currentlyavailable to regulate any timber trade, butthrough the Convention on InternationalTrade in Endangered Species (CITES) it hasbeen possible to control some tree speciesthrough a legal instrument that alreadyexists. It is for this reason that in 2001Indonesia decided to place ramin,
Gonystylus spp.
, on Appendix 3 of CITES totry to prevent the wholesale theft of thisvaluable species from its dwindling swampforests and National Parks. These sameParks are revered around the world for theirdiverse fauna and flora including Asia’s onlyGreat Ape, the orangutan. Indonesia’s movehas been widely commended as a genuineappeal for help from the internationalcommunity.
Above: Raft of 
illegal logs onthe Seruyan rivernear TanjungPuting NationalPark, Indonesia
Introduction
   ©   S  a  m   L  a  w  s  o  n   /   E  n  v   i  r  o  n  m  e  n   t  a   l   I  n  v  e  s   t   i  g  a   t   i  o  n   A  g  e  n  c  y   /   T  e   l  a  p  a   k
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