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Friday July 8, 2011

Code for timber industry

By HANIM ADNAN
nem@thestar.com.my


There is a need for it given the current issues on tropical timber

KUALA LUMPUR: Local timber players should support the introduction of a code of conduct for the industry given increasing sustainability issue on tropical timber and wood-based products raised by global consumers, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

“The code of conduct for timber industry can be drawn up from the experiences of the palm oil, mining and timber associations from other countries which have successfully implemented their own codes of conduct,” he said.

Over the past two decades, the timber sector has been plagued by concerns on the illegal logging, trade in illegally sourced timber and timber products, deforestation and social conflicts due to the conversion of tropical forests.

Malaysia as a major timber and wood-products exporter would need to better position itself as an ethical producer and supplier of high quality timber products, Dompok said after opening the Malaysian Forest Dialogue (MFD 2011) yesterday.

Dompok: ‘The code of conduct for timber industry can be drawn up fromthe experiences of the palm oil, mining and timber associations from other countries.’

To date, 4.65 million ha of natural forest have been certified by the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme, which in turn is endorsed by the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme, the largest certification scheme in the world.

There are also 173,000 ha of natural forest and 31,000 ha of forest plantations certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme in Malaysia.

Malaysian Timber Council chief executive officer Cheah Kam Huan said it was unfortunate the reputation of timber and wood products had been tarnished by some unscrupulous parties which made allegations about illegal logging, irresponsible practices in the trade and cheating with sub-standard or low quality material.

The United States has amended its Lacey Act in May 2008 to ban the import of illegal timber. The Timber Regulations in European Union which was legislated last year and to be effective in March 2013 will require proof of legality or due dilligence for all timber products placed in the European Union.

Japan, Australia and New Zealand also favour similar verification for legal timber.

Therefore, a proper code of conduct for local timber industry could assist the local timber and forest-based industry to meet the requirements from global consumers, said Cheah.

The two-day closed-door MFD 2011 dialogue session saw UK Timber Trade head of sustainability Rachel Butler, Dutch Timber Trade Federation director Paul van den Heuvei and US-based US International Wood Products Association manager Brigid M. Shea sharing their experiences in developing and implementing their respective codes of conduct.

Other speakers include Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil secretary-general Darrel Webber, HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd chief risk officer Paul Norton and Australia Bunnings Group Ltd risk and sustainability manager Mark Gomm.

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