‘Unsustainable’ facelift for Nelson’s Column prompts procurement rethink

The revelation that the plywood surrounding Nelson's Column in London's iconic Trafalgar Square as it undergoes renovations can be traced back to illegal logging in a tropical rain forest has prompted the city's mayor to rethink procurement procedures.

Environmental pressure group Greenpeace exposed the fact that the tropical hardwood species used to make the plywood, bintangor, comes from the forests of Papua New Guinea where, according to the World Bank and the nation’s own government, most logging is unlawful and unsustainable.

Upon receiving this information, Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, announced all timber used by the Greater London Authority of its contractors would in the future be sourced from responsibly managed forests and would have to carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp of approval or its equivalent.

FSC certification guarantees wood comes from environmentally and socially responsible sources.

Mr Livingstone said: “I want to thank Greenpeace for highlighting the importance of using FSC certified timber.

“I have now taken a decision to improve our procurement procedures to ensure that any wood procured by the Greater London Authority or any contractors working on its behalf is from a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified source or equivalent standard.

“My vision is for London to be a sustainable world city, which is why I have taken action to raise standards. I, along with Greenpeace, want to boost awareness amongst businesses, organisations and consumers in the capital that whether you are buying garden furniture or wood for construction, by buying timber which is FSC certified, you can be sure that you are not damaging the environment.’

Greenpeace executive director Stephen Tindale, who joined the mayor at his weekly press conference, said: “It’s great that the mayor has agreed to take immediate action to stop the flow of unsustainable, uncertified timber used on its projects.

“Nobody wants London to be known as a city that is contributing to the destruction of the world’s last rainforests. Now the mayor has announced that the Greater London Authority will tighten up procedures and enforce its environment policy, it’s up to central government to build upon its declared commitment to sourcing sustainable timber and prohibit the import of unsustainable and illegally logged timber entering the UK.”

Sam Bond

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