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Japanese companies buying tropical timber linked to illegal logging, human rights abuses, and rainforest destruction in Malaysia

Japan has been the largest buyer of timber products from Sarawak, Malaysia, for more than twenty years. This report examines systematic corruption, illegal logging, and human rights violations in Sarawak’s forest sector and the extensive timber trade between Sarawak and Japan. It argues that Japan should join the United States, the European Union, and Australia in enacting legislation that places a comprehensive prohibition on the import of illegal timber products and requires buyers to carry out due diligence on supply chains of wood-based products.

12th September 2013

Japanese companies are failing to keep illegally logged timber from entering their supply chains, international human rights and environmental watchdog Global Witness said in a report released today. The report links several major Japanese firms to logging companies that are destroying tropical rainforests in Malaysian Borneo through illegal and destructive logging practices in Sarawak province.

Japan is the largest importer of timber from Sarawak, where deforestation rates are among the highest in the world. Logging far exceeds sustainable rates, Global Witness said, and logging companies systematically violate forestry laws. According to the report, the widespread illegal and unsustainable logging in Sarawak is devastating the province’s remaining tropical forests. Where concessions overlap with customary land, logging in Sarawak is also threatening indigenous communities with severe food insecurity and extreme poverty.

However, despite the systematic corruption, illegal logging and human rights violations in Sarawak’s forest sector, much of the timber imported to Japan is labeled as “legal” under a government-sanctioned timber certification scheme that takes the Sarawak government’s word on whether timber was logged legally. In its report, Global Witness calls on companies in Japan to stop sourcing timber from Sarawak altogether until they can independently verify that any timber they purchase was produced legally and is free from corruption and human rights abuses.

Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2013/0910-dparker-sarawak-malaysia.html#MxmHz7Yfuyqs2Ir5.99

tropical rainforests in Malaysian Borneo through illegal and destructive logging practices in Sarawak province.

Japan is the largest importer of timber from Sarawak, where deforestation rates are among the highest in the world. Logging far exceeds sustainable rates, Global Witness said, and logging companies systematically violate forestry laws. According to the report, the widespread illegal and unsustainable logging in Sarawak is devastating the province’s remaining tropical forests. Where concessions overlap with customary land, logging in Sarawak is also threatening indigenous communities with severe food insecurity and extreme poverty.

MORE from Global Witness on this report

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