Some 70% of all timber exported from Indonesia is illegally logged.
In Australia, it is estimated that 9% of wood imports or $400 million is from illegal sources. (Jaakko Poyry Consulting 2005: Overview of Illegal Logging. Report prepared for Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, September). In 2007, the incoming Australian government made an election promise to ban illegally logged timber but has since changed stance to instead “promote the trade of legal timber”.
Your best option when buying wood-products is to avoid any of the tropical hardwoods. By doing this you can help us save the forests of Indonesia, and save the last orangutans. For alternatives refer to The Good Wood Guide.
Items to avoid:
Indonesia is now the major producer of tropical plywood in the world.
The generic term for tropical plywood is Lauan but it may also be called meranti. More than half of the 200 different tree species that are sold as Meranti are listed as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN.
Its primary use is for the facing of interior doors and the backing of wood and faux-wood panelling. Furniture makers use lauan for backing of dressers and dresser drawers and the backing of shelf units. It is used frequently in construction for sub-flooring and sub-roofing and where small pieces of plywood are required.
There are no sustainable tropical plywood projects.
Ramin is an endangered species that grows in the peat (swamp) rainforests of Borneo.
The largest use of ramin is for dowels and Indonesia is the world’s largest dowel producer. Dowels are used in numerous ways, but by far the largest use is for tool handles. Rakes, brooms, mops, plungers, brushes and the handles of other tools are often made from ramin dowels. So where possible buy tools with a plastic handle or metal frame.
Kwila / Merbau
Kwila/Merbau is a slow growing tree found throughout the South Pacific. It is now listed by the World Conservation Union as “vulnerable”.
It is in demand for high quality applications including flooring, decking, stair material, ballustrades, handrails and posts, general construction, engineering, slicing and peeling veneers, boat building, furniture (indoor and outdoor) and exterior joinery.
Teak, Ironwood, Ebony, and Sandalwood
Four hardwoods from Indonesia are teak, ironwood, ebony and sandalwood. These are slow-growing trees, so the sustainability of these species depends on their careful and restrained management.
Rayon is made from wood pulp — a particular kind called “dissolving pulp” which demands a very clean input stream. Indonesia has now eclipsed Japan and Korea as the largest producer of rayon. The rayon mills are huge consumers of rainforests.
People should avoid rayon if at all possible and consider garments made of cotton, silk or linen.
Orangutan Friendly Products / Palm Oil