Monday, December 8, 2014

2020 Tokyo Games using illegal Sarawak timber?

8:00AM Dec 8, 2014
NGO Global Witness today questioned if the construction for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games involves timber that is being logged in an "illegal and unsustainable" way from Sarawak.

The NGO said that according to their investigations, companies that are household names in Japan, and high profile Tokyo construction projects are "linked" to the destruction of the Sarawak rainforest.

It said that while seven of the planned Olympic facilities are likely to fall under the supervision of Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has a policy to encourage the use of alternative to tropical timber in construction projects, the main Olympic stadium might not have such a policy.

The main stadium is supervised by the Japanese government.

It named two of Japan's biggest plywood suppliers, both of whom who are Sarawak-based, as the main target of their investigations.

One of the companies, Samling Group, in a response toMalaysiakini today, denied the allegations of illegal timber logging.

“Samling Group regrets the continual public characterisation of the company by environment activists such as Global Witness that is often inaccurate and biased,” it said.

“Our timber and timber products are harvested legally as we abide by the forestry laws and regulations set by the authorities.

“We are not involved in any illegal logging activities and we are not involved with the one allegedly being carried out in a national park,” it said.

“Our Japanese customers have also conducted their own fact-finding to verify the legality of their timber supply chains,” it added.

It also said that it constantly respects the rights and the customs of the indigenous communities where the logging concessions take place.

Global Witness said that both the companies face "numerous allegations" of illegal and unsustainable logging.

"If the Japanese government and companies do not change their current timber sourcing practices, the expected Olympic construction boom is likely to contribute to the destruction of rainforests in Borneo," it said.

IOC urged to check

Global Witness had also sent out an open letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging it to ensure that the construction for the Tokyo Olympics uses "sustainable and legal" timber.

The NGO also said that Japan is consuming at least 30 percent of all the timber being logged in Sarawak.

"One out of every three trees cut in Sarawak is being consumed in Japan," Global Witness said in a statement today.

"For the past 20 years, Japan had imported approximately half of the tropical plywood produced in Sarawak," it said.

They are also publishing their findings of three years of investigations into Sarawak’s logging industry and its links to Japan today.

This is planned to coincide with the IOC's 127th session currently in progress in Monaco from Dec 7 to 9.
~ Malaysiakini

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