Posts Tagged ‘timber’

US firms buying timber from illegal PNG logging: NGO — Flooring manufactured in China and Home Depot named

August 1, 2017

AFP

© Global Witness/AFP | This undated handout photo released on August 1, 2017 by the environmental watchdog Global Witness shows trees illegally logged in the back of a truck on New Hanover Island, part of the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea

PORT MORESBY (AFP) – American consumers may be fuelling logging linked to illegal land grabs in Papua New Guinea which have devastated local communities and the world’s third largest tropical rain forest, Global Witness said Tuesday.Timber logged in the impoverished Pacific nation is exported to manufacturing hubs, mostly in China, before being sent to other countries such as the United States as wooden flooring and other commercial products in a multi-billion dollar trade.

But Global Witness claimed about one-third of PNG timber in recent years came from land stolen from locals by the government and given to loggers. It said US firms could be violating American law if they fail to check the wood’s legality.

“US consumers may be unwittingly fuelling what is one of the biggest land grabs in modern history,” the NGO said in a statement after releasing its “Stained Trade” report based on a three-year investigation.

The activist group estimated that Chinese sales of wood products to the US were worth some $15 billion annually.

“The US Lacey Act bans the import of illegal wood. However, Global Witness found wood from PNG readily available on US markets in the form of flooring manufactured in China,” it said.

Global Witness said US retail giant Home Depot’s supplier Home Legend stopped selling hardwood flooring that contained PNG timber after they were informed of the findings.

It added that major Chinese flooring seller Nature Home was placing a “pause on new procurement” for the US market as it reviewed sourcing procedures.

But some of the other US companies which were contacted about the investigation did not respond, Global Witness said.

As part of its 2014-16 probe, the organisation interviewed dozens of people from local communities — who rely on the forests as sources of food, water and medicine — and who said they had lost their land to loggers.

“Tens of thousands of people have been affected,” said campaign leader Rick Jacobsen, who claimed many who tried to speak out had been threatened, arrested or beaten.

Landowner-turned-activist Paul Pavol said such land was his community’s “food and water, protein, building materials, medicines, beauty, warmth, and everything else”, but that changed when logging machines were brought there in 2010.

“There were policemen on the barge… We were the first people to go up there and tell them, ‘No, stop this!’ When I see ships taking my logs away, I honestly cry.

“That’s the reason we raise our voices. Something’s got to be done to save our forest.”

The PNG government has rejected previous allegations that logging was taking place on illegally obtained land.

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Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Meets In South Africa

September 24, 2016
A man drives a pick-up truck carrying a mock rhino during a demonstration marking the opening of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild, Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg on September 24, 2016

A man drives a pick-up truck carrying a mock rhino during a demonstration marking the opening of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild, Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg on September 24, 2016 (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)
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AFP
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Johannesburg (AFP) – South African President Jacob Zuma opened the world’s biggest conference on the international wildlife trade in Johannesburg Saturday with a warning of the dire consequences of failing to tackle the demand for elephant ivory, rhino horn and hundreds of other endangered wild animals and plants.

Over the next 12 days thousands of conservationists and top government officials are due to thrash out international trade regulations aimed at protecting different species.

The plight of Africa’s rhino and elephants, targeted for their horns and tusks, in particular, is expected to dominate much of the gathering.

The booming illegal wildlife trade has put huge pressure on an existing treaty signed by more than 180 countries — the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Opening the conference, Zuma said it was vital that nations worked together to pull species back from the brink.

“Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction,” Zuma said.

CITES’ secretary general John Scanlon said the meeting would “review trade controls of close to 500 species of wild animals and plants”.

“High on the agenda we have the African elephants, the rhino, the pangolin… the silky shark,” he said.

And while Scanlon hailed the deep commitment of all those taking part, he warned that “they sometimes have differing views on the best way to achieve this”.

A coalition of 29 African countries is pressing for a total halt to the ivory trade to curb poaching of elephants, but other delegates believe it would only fuel illegal trading.

A recent census revealed that the savannah elephant population has declined by 30 percent over seven years.

Britain’s Prince William said in a pre-CITES speech this week that the census confirmed that “one of our planet’s most treasured species is on course for extinction at the hands of poachers and traffickers”.

He added that when he was born there were one million elephants roaming Africa, but they could be extinct in the wild by the time his one-year-old daughter Charlotte turned 25.

Illegal trade in wildlife is valued at around $20 billion (18 billion euros) a year, according to CITES.

It is ranked among the world’s largest illegal businesses alongside arms, counterfeit goods, drugs and human trafficking.

Several hundred activists meanwhile marched near the conference venue to push for the “strictest possible protection” for the most vulnerable species.

– Insatiable demand –

CITES forbids trade in elephant ivory, but Namibia and Zimbabwe have made a proposal asking for permission to sell off stockpiles to raise funds for local communities that co-exist with the animals.

On rhino horn trafficking, CITES banned that trade 40 years ago, but prohibition has not reduced illicit hunting, which has recently boomed in South Africa.

Around 5,000 white rhino — a quarter of the population — have been slaughtered over the past eight years, with the majority killed in South Africa, home to 80 percent of the world’s rhino.

Rhino poaching is driven by insatiable demand in Vietnam and China for the horn, which is mistakenly believed to have medicinal powers curing everything from hangovers to cancer.

But China is now taking steps to clampdown on the domestic demand for ivory.

“China has made significant moves to combat illegal trade in wildlife,” Scanlon told reporters, adding it had started prosecuting people involved in illegal trade and reducing demand by closing down local retail markets.

Other species high on the CITES radar are devils ray, rock geckos, tomato frogs and the African grey parrot.

Scanlon warned that illegal wildlife trafficking was “occurring on an industrial scale, driven by transnational organised criminal groups”.

Besides animals, timber will be a focus.

When it first came into force in 1975, CITES only regulated a handful of timber species, but three years ago there were 600 types of timber listed under its appendices.

This year there are 250 species proposed for listing, especially of sought-after rosewood.

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By Steven Wright
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1474262976_forestfire

 

Myanmar announces amnesty for thousands of prisoners — Includes Chinese loggers

July 30, 2015

Reuters

YANGON — Myanmar freed 155 Chinese jailed for illegal logging in an amnesty for thousands of prisoners on Thursday, a move that could ease diplomatic tensions with influential giant neighbor China.

Some 6,966 prisoners were pardoned including the Chinese citizens held in Kachin state, of which 153 were given life sentences last week that prompted a diplomatic protest by an “extremely concerned” China .

Despite Myanmar’s flurry of engagement with the West since a quasi-civilian government replaced a junta in 2011, its ties with China – its economic lifeline during two decades of sanctions – remain crucial to trade, security and energy.

Relations have soured this year over fighting between Myanmar’s army and a rebel militia that has seen Chinese citizens killed by stray shells in border areas.

The loggers were among 210 foreigners included in Thursday’s amnesty, according to prison and Home Ministry officials.

Myanmar has sentenced an unspecified number of Chinese nationals to more than a decade in jail for illegal logging, China’s state media previously reported.  © AFP/File / by Kelly Macnamara

Myint Wai, director of the immigration in Myitkyina, where the loggers were held, said buses were waiting to take them to the border. China’s embassy in Myanmar was not immediately available for comment.

The loggers were arrested in January in a crackdown on Myanmar’s lucrative illegal logging and timber trade. More than 400 vehicles and 1,600 logs were seized during the raid, state media said at the time.

Myanmar’s porous border with China has long been a hotbed for illegal trade in timber and jade to feed Chinese demand.

That has fueled resentment in Myanmar, which the Global Times tabloid, published by the Chinese ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, in an editorial last week said could have been the reason for the harsh sentences.

It was unclear if political prisoners were among those freed, said Bo Kyi, of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which monitors prisoners of conscience, of which more than 2,000 were held in Myanmar’s jails and labor camps under military rule.

“Many prisoners will be released, but I’m not sure what kind of prisoners,” he said.

Myanmar’s incarceration of journalists, activists, politicians and even comedians was a key factor behind the West’s imposition of sanctions, many of which were eased when reformist President Thein Sein started releasing hundreds of political prisoners.

He had said there would be no more prisoners of conscience by the end of 2013, a promise human rights groups say he has broken.

According to the AAPP, Myanmar, as of last week, had 136 political prisoners and another 448 facing trial.

(Writing by Timothy McLaughlin; Editing by Martin Petty)

Heavy weapons fire breaks out in Central African Republic’s capital

December 30, 2013

By Paul-Marin Ngoupana

BANGUI          Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:31am EST

Deadly clashes in bangui central african republic un authorizes troops hollande

People stand near bodies found lying in a mosque and in its surrounding streets in the Central African capital Bangui on December 5, 2013, after overnight violence.

BANGUI (Reuters) – Heavy weapons fire rang out in the north of Central African Republic’s capital Bangui early on Monday in what the government said were clashes with Christian militias.

French and African troops have struggled to contain violence between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias that has already killed 1,000 people this month and displaced hundreds of thousands.

“There was heavy weapons fire north of Bangui for a few hours and several neighborhoods were affected,” Amy Martin, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bangui told Reuters.

A Reuters witness in the capital reported shell explosions and mortar fire, adding that it had stopped by late morning.

Heavy arms fire was reported in Bangui during a two-day spike in violence which began on December 5 but reports of shooting in recent days has been limited to sporadic small arms fire.

Guy-Simplice Kodegue, spokesman for interim President Michel Djotodia said the fresh fighting was between government forces and members of the Christian militia, known as anti-balaka after the local Sango language word for machete.

He did not say whether there had been any casualties.

A local resident who didn’t wish to be named said a group of around 40 men armed with Kalashnikovs assault rifles marched through northern Bangui on Monday, despite French-led efforts to disarm the population.

The country’s Christian majority has complained of waves of looting and killing by Djotodia’s loose band of militias who seized power in March with the aid of fighters from Chad and Sudan.

Violence intensified in early December after Christian militia launched reprisal attacks on Seleka forces, raising fears of generalized conflict in the country.

The number of internally displaced has swollen with the mounting violence and over 100,000 are sheltering in a makeshift camp at Bangui airport, a medical charity said.

CHILD BEHEADINGS

Kristalina Georgieva, EU aid chief, said that concerted international action was needed to prevent “an appalling tragedy from spiraling further out of control”.

More than 800,000 people are now internally displaced within the country and a meeting with U.N.’s humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is planned for January 20 to coordinate humanitarian policy, Georgieva added.

UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s agency, said on Monday that at least two children had been beheaded in this month’s violence.

“More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks,” said Souleymane Diabate, UNICEF Representative in the country.

Martin Ziguele, a former prime minister and leading opposition figure, called for the formation of a national commission to bring accountability for crimes.

“There can be no true reconciliation without justice and forgiveness,” he said in a statement.

Many say the bloodshed has little to do with religion in a nation where Muslims and Christians have long lived in peace, and have instead blamed a political battle for control of resources in one of Africa’s most weakly governed states.

Central African Republic, racked by five coups and numerous rebellions since independence from France in 1960, is rich in diamonds, timber gold and oil.

(Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana; Additional reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Jon Boyle)