Holland bans Malaysian logs

(FMT) – KUCHING: Whilst Sarawak continues to turn its nose on international regulations over timber certifications, Netherlands has ruled that wood from Malaysia is not worthy of entry onto its shores.

The country’s Independent Appeals Board in Amsterdam recently ruled that Malaysia’s regulations governing forestation was well below world standards.

Ruling in favour of international NGO Greenpeace, the Board concurred with Greenpeace’s complaint that Malaysia’s wood certification scheme fell below the acceptable world standards and was not a badge of good practice.

Greenpeace’s complaint was based on ‘solid evidence and international reports’ which it had compiled and presented to the Board.

According to the Appeals Board judgment, the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) had demonstrated:

i) No respect for the rights of indigenous peoples,

ii) Maps of MTCS certified forests are not adequately accessible to the public,

iii) The EIAs used for environmental impact assessment in Malaysia are inadequate to assess sustainability and

iv) No guarantee can be given that MTCS certified forests do not disappear for other land uses, such as plantations.

The decision simply means that the Dutch will ban wood products certified under the MTCS from entering the country.

Tighter laws

The Dutch government policy on the import of raw materials must comply with general European Commission (EC) policy, and with respect to this product the guidelines set by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

The EC follows basic tenets in their Environmental Action Programme (EAP).

The EAP states that wood can only be imported from tropical areas that are managed and practice sustainable wood harvesting practices.

Netherlands along with a host of other countries are complying with European Union (EU) efforts to standardise basic trade regulations in the bloc.

FMT learnt that certain locales within Netherland and in neighbouring countries within the EU bloc have already banned the use of tropical hard woods in construction projects especially those imported from Malaysia and to a lesser extent Indonesia.

Stubborn Sarawak

However this doesn’t seem to bother Sarawak.

Last week State Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan stubbornly said Sarawak will not comply with international timber certification and trade regulations.

He said the state “already has its own set of timber industry policies”.