“This is a huge step towards achieving our goal of ensuring that all tropical timber imported into the country is sourced from sustainably managed forests,” NZITTG chairman Malcolm Scott, himself a timber importer, says.
“It’s also a great way to celebrate 20 years of the NZITTG,” he says.
“Legality is an important part of sustainability. We have been trying to do the right thing for a long time and, now, urged on by Greenpeace NZ and others, we’ve taken the commitment to provide our customers with Indonesian timber that is, at a minimum, verified as being legally sourced.”
This is a significant commitment from the NZITTG, whose membership is made up of the major timber importers and retailers in New Zealand, including Carters, Bunnings, ITM, Mitre 10, PlaceMakers and also Greenpeace NZ.
The timber importers account for more than 80% of the importation and sale of tropical timber products in New Zealand.
The move came about due to concerns that some of the timber imported into New Zealand is suspected to be illegally harvested, meaning that the trees are felled in violation of national laws, or that the loggers are extracting more timber than authorised or have obtained their logging concessions illegally.
Illegal logging has negative impacts on the community and the environment, and leads to the degradation or loss of natural habitats.
Kwila, a timber commonly used for decking and outdoor furniture in New Zealand, is the major species from allegedly illegal sources. The main source of kwila is Indonesia.
Imports of kwila timber in the year ending December 31, 2009, were worth $18.3 million, with 94% of this timber coming from Indonesia.
While some of this product comes with proof of its legality, some of it does not. In recent times the major retail members of the NZITTG have been changing their procurement policies to eliminate stocking kwila without proof of its legality status.
“None of the importers and retailers in the group want to be buying and selling illegal property or stolen timber — it simply isn’t good business,” Mr Scott says. “By making this commitment we are putting our reputations on the line in order to do the right thing.”
For more information on the NZITTG, and for a provisional list of the agreed credible verification schemes for legality, see www.nzittg.org.
Members of the New Zealand Imported Tropical Timber Group are: BBi, BBS Timbers, Bunnings, Carters, Furniture Association of NZ, Greenpeace NZ, Gunnersen, Harco, Herman Pacific, ITM, JSC Timber, Mitre 10, Moxon, PlaceMakers, Rosenfeld Kidson, Simmonds Lumber, Smith City and Timspec.