Claims of illegal timber use for Government building

The Government has promised to look into whether timber illegally imported from Indonesian rain forests is being used on the construction site of a new Home Office building. The move followed a two-day occupation of the site by Greenpeace activists protesting over the issue.

Less than a year ago another Greenpeace protest forced ministers into a similar inquiry process, over timber used to refurbish a Whitehall office (see related story). Despite initially denying the allegations, the Government finally admitted that the wood came from sources in central Africa not certified as sustainable, contravening government procurement policy.

This time the wood concerned is not being used for construction but instead for the site hoardings and to hold wet concrete in place while it sets, Greenpeace says. “Trashing Indonesia’s last rainforests to make throwaway plywood to shield government building projects is like smashing up Stonehenge to make rubble for road building,” Greenpeace forest campaigner John Sauven said.

Greenpeace quotes Indonesia’s own forest minister as saying that “allowing the import and trade of illegal timber products could be considered as an act to assist or even to conduct forest crime”. Despite this, 50% of UK tropical plywood imports are from Indonesia's rainforests, the group claims.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office stressed that all wood being used in the construction itself was legally sourced. “We are now checking through the contractors and sub-contractors to see whether there is any truth in what Greenpeace is saying,” she told edie.

Greenpeace has also launched a new report tracing the trade in illegally logged timber from Indonesia's rainforests to end users and builders merchants in the UK. It predicts that around 88% of all wood from Indonesia's remaining rainforests is set to come from illegal sources this year.



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