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Thursday
Mar122009

Merbau records flawed

Merbau is a popular material for flooring, but there are concerns over the legality and sustainability of supplies © Greenpeace China Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 12 March 2009⎯Poor record keeping and illegal logging is raising concerns of over-exploitation of Merbau, finds a new report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

Merbau, a tropical hardwood, is popular in Europe and elsewhere as a flooring material. Roughly 30,000 cubic metres of Merbau timber entered the EU in 2005, half of it direct from Indonesia, the remainder from Malaysia and, after processing, from China.

Indonesia banned exports of round logs, including Merbau, in 2002 and does not issue export declaration forms, meaning all Merbau exports since then can be considered illegal.

"The demand for Merbau flooring is set to continue in the EU and elsewhere and there are concerns about the sustainability of Merbau supplies, especially because of the reported indiscriminate logging activities in producer countries," commented Tong Pei Sin, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia Regional Forest Trade Officer and an author of the report.

The report, A review of trade in Merbau from major range States (PDF, 1 MB), examined statistics and trade records of Merbau produced by Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia and found the bulk of their exports were destined for China, followed by the European Union.

Indonesia and Papua New Guinea had incomplete trade data on the export of Merbau logs and in some cases data from different sources did not match.

China, the largest buyer of Merbau, had import data that did not correspond to export statistics from the countries of origin. The report described such discrepancies as "common and not easily solved."

Many Merbau logs harvested in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua were destined for inter island trade within Indonesia, which was not monitored or controlled, the study found. Merbau accounted for half of Papua province's total log production in 2002 (251,000 cubic meters).

In Papua New Guinea, Merbau accounted for between 6-11% of the total wood products exported between 2000-2005 (1.5 million to 2 million cubic metres).

The review found that forest inventories were lacking or obsolete in producer countries, making it difficult even to estimate existing Merbau populations.

"Although the Indonesian Government has made efforts to curb illegal logging, unsustainable and illegal trade will continue as long as Merbau round logs and products are logged without proper forest management plans and adequate controls and effective monitoring," commented Tong.

The study recommended more effective control over licensing and management of timber harvesting and better data collection systems. It also suggested that listing Merbau in CITES would enable the collection of more accurate data and allow for better monitoring, enforcement and control of international trade.

For further information
Elizabeth John, Senior Communications Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Tel: +603 7880 3940, Email: jlizzjohn@yahoo.com

Tong Pei Sin, Regional Forest Trade Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. Email: tongps@myjaring.net, Tel: (603) 7880 3940.

Richard Thomas, Communications Co-ordinator, TRAFFIC. Tel: +44 1223 279068, mob + 44 752 6646 216. E-mail richard.thomas@traffic.org

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