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China Olympics 2008: destroying Papua's ancient rainforests EINDHOVEN (THE NETHERLANDS) - With two-and-a-half years to go until the start of the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing China, the Chinese government and Olympic Committee have recently placed a $1 billion rush order for endangered rainforest timbers from Indonesia's Papua province to be used in construction for the games. A proposed timber processing factory would industrially harvest 800,000 cubic meters of the famous and threatened merbau (intsia spp) rainforest timbers, to be exported to China for the construction of sports facilities.

Indonesia's Papua province on the island of New Guinea has some of the world's last remaining large intact rainforests. These rainforests are millions of years old, contain untold biodiversity and evolutionary history, and provide critical regional and global ecosystem processes including climate regulation through their storage of massive amounts of carbon. These priceless ancient rainforests have come under severe pressure from the rampant illegal logging of merbau and granting of massive logging concessions. China already consumes almost all of the estimated 300,000 cubic meters of merbau smuggled out of Papua every month.

Merbau is a dark, luxurious, red wood that is primarily used for the manufacturing of hardwood floors. The merbau tree is endemic in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Irian, as well as in neighboring Papua New Guinea. Experts forecast that China's drive to develop its infrastructure to host the Olympics will consume tens of millions of cubic meters of primary forest products. Setting up the timber plant in Papua was the only way that the company could meet its timber needs as the Indonesia government has banned the export of round logs since 2001.

An investment of this size will only serve to legitimize and further fuel illegal, highly unsustainable, and ecologically devastating logging, ensuring the destruction of this critically threatened ancient rainforest. It is against the Olympic ideals of bringing "people together in peace to respect universal moral principles" when the events are housed in facilities constructed with ancient rainforest timbers of questionable legality and morality. Please insist the Chinese government and Olympic committee commit to hosting an "old-growth, ancient forest free" Olympics.



Posted in Environment @ 03 May 2006 19:34 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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