From: Reuters
Published May 17, 2007 12:00 AM

China Needs Responsible Timber Choice, Greenpeace Says

BEIJING -- Greenpeace called on China's large DIY retailers on Thursday to adopt "responsible" timber-sourcing policies to allow the country's growing ranks of home renovators to buy legally imported wood.

The environmental group's China office said foreign and local DIY operators were selling illegally imported timber from forests in Southeast Asia, Africa and Brazil, and providing consumers with no way of checking their origins.

"In most cases, Chinese consumers in this market have no way of distinguishing legal timber products from illegal ones," Liu Shangwen, Greenpeace forestry project director, told a news conference.

"Only through adopting environmentally friendly sourcing policies can companies win a high standing in the eyes of their consumers," Liu said.

Greenpeace said last month China should take responsibility for illegal hardwood logging in Southeast Asia, which supplied the raw materials for Chinese exports to the West.

China's state-run companies have been accused of indiscriminate logging in virgin rainforests and its energy and mining companies of propping up dictatorial regimes across Africa in return for access to oil, gas and minerals.

But China has dismissed the allegations and says countries such as the United States and Japan that buy its timber products are equally responsible for the world's dwindling forests.

"Forestry trade is part of international trade," Thursday's China Daily quoted forestry ministry spokesman Cao Qingyao as saying.

"Both producing and importing countries should strengthen administration and supervision," Cao said.

Greenpeace said responsible timber sourcing was "critical" in China, where rapid urbanisation and soaring home ownership posed a threat to global forest reserves that were home to thousands of species and a buffer against climate change.

"China will add some 6 billion sq metres of space for renovation between 2005 and 2010," Liu said.

"This is not just a development opportunity. Rather, it should be the start of responsibility as far as global forestry resources are concerned."

Newly affluent Chinese consumers bought about 45 billion yuan ($5.8 billion) worth of wooden floor boards in 2005, up 18 percent the year before, Greenpeace said, citing a Chinese timber industry association's figures.

With growth in the DIY market projected at 12 percent a year, DIY retailers, which had grown from a single store in 1995 to over 115 in 2005, needed to do more, the group said.

"At this point in time, large corporations are generally not taking sufficient steps to ensure their purchasing decisions help protect forests, rather than contribute to their degradation," the group said. ($1 = 7.68 yuan)

Source: Reuters

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