Stolen timber worth almost two and a half billiondollars is traded between the countries of East andSouth-East Asia each year.
China, whichconsumes timber from some of the countries mostbadly affected by illegal logging, is reckoned to bethe largest consumer of illegal timber in theworld,
while Indonesia is the largest tropicalsupplier.
It is clear that if illegal logging is to beeffectively countered, the countries of this regionmust work together.EIA and Telapak’s investigations over the pastfive years have spanned the region and provide aunique knowledge of this trade and attempts totackle it. Drawing on this experience, this briefinguses specific case studies to illustrate options foraction. Though solutions must necessarily beginwith improved enforcement in producer countriesagainst illegal cutting and export of timber, thisdocument focuses on how regional consumer andprocessing states can work with producercountries to help stem the tide.
The Nature of the Problem
The countries of South-East Asia are some of thehardest hit by illegal logging. By the mid-nineties95 per cent of Asia’s frontier forests were gone.
Eighty per cent or more of all timber production inIndonesia is thought to be illicit, as is more thantwo-thirds of logging in Papua New Guinea.
TheAmerican Forest & Paper Association estimatethat ten per cent of Malaysian log exports are of suspicious origin.
These three countries betweenthem account for 60 per cent of worldwide exportsof tropical logs, while the two biggest importers of tropical wood –China and Japan - are also in theregion.
Altogether, sixty percent of tropicaltimber in international trade moves between thecountries of South-East and East Asia,
and it canbe estimated that a total of over nine million cubicmetres of illegal tropical logs, sawn-timber andplywood worth 2.3 billion dollars was tradedwithin the region in 2003.
At least a quarter of this timber was illegally exported.
Recognising the urgent need for a coordinatedresponse, in 2001 the countries of the regionissued a declaration in which they committed towork together to tackle illegal logging andassociated trade.
Since then, Indonesia hassigned additional bilateral agreements with bothChina and Japan.
Unfortunately, almost no shipments of illegalwood have actually been halted as a result. Onlyone small shipment of stolen timber fromIndonesia has been prevented from entering eitherChina or Japan, and progress elsewhere in theregion has been little better.
Indeed, it evenremains unclear exactly
such illegal timbershipments could be stopped in future.
Two and a half billion dollars of stolen timber is traded between the countries of East and South- East Asia each year
Halting the Trade in Stolen Timber in Asia
Stemming the Tide:
: Trade intropical timberin SE/East Asia.
Total volume tradedworldwide 2003 (m
)Volume traded between thecountries of SE/East Asia2003 (m
)Percentage traded withinthe SE/East Asia regionLogs
15,255,705 8,381,667 55%
8,548,661 5,256,183 61%
1,101,826 592, 099 54%
8,231,040 5,770,673 70%
TOTAL 33,137,232 20,000,622 60%Of which illegal (est.)
Notes: Tropical timber trade figures from ITTO Annual Review 2004; estimate of illegally traded timber calculated using detailed intra-regional trade figuresand estimates of levels of illegality in source countries from AF&PA report (see reference No 5).