Panels & Furniture Asia Jan/Feb 2018

PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA • Issue 1 • January / February 2018 GLOBAL WOOD RESOURCES 65 WHAT CAN WE DO TO REDUCE THE ILLEGAL TRADE OF LOGS AND LUMBER? he trade of illegal logs and lumber seems to be flourishing on the Internet. Eachday one receives online offers of wood products sourced from Africa, Asia and SouthAmerica. Facebook is a very good example and there are many groups that offer such products on a daily basis. How can you tell these logs are illegally harvested? One observation I made is that these sellers are often individuals, not licensed companies. Look at the photos and you will see, for example, that the square logs are very roughly sawnwhich could indicate that cuttingwas done by a chainsaw in the forest rather than by proper band saws in a sawmill. The other giveaway is that most of these square logs and/or large sawn lumber are manually loaded piece by piece into the container, which is rather unusual.Most proper sawmillswill have all material stacked, strapped and loaded by forklift. Why do people still offer such products? The answer is very simple: There is a huge market for cheap wood regardless of its legality. Many Facebook offers I received have very good responses frombuyers across Asia—in particular China, India and Vietnam. These interested buyers seem to have little concern about the legality of these products. Fortunately, there are still many of us who place great importance on the legality of wood. We have an important role to play in reducing the illicit trade. How can we do this? 1. Stop buying illegal wood products; insist on PEFC- and/or FSC-certified products only. 2. Ensure your company is PEFC- and/ or FSC-certified. 3. Conduct proper EUTR due diligence even if the goods are not destined for Europe. 4. Spread the message, alert other potential buyers about the risks of trading illegal wood. 5. Become an active member of any Internet group offering wood products and keep reminding such groups that they must ensure the legality of all products offered. The future of the woodworking industry is in our own hands. As users of the forest, we must ensure that all our wood resources are legal in accordance with international laws. They should come fromwell-managed and sustainable sources that follow best practices in accordancewithwell-known certification programmes such as PEFC and FSC. ℗ Photo: Courtesy APP Timber Top: Dubious logs for sale on Facebook. Bottom: Illegal felling of rosewood. Dutch-born Michael Hermens is the founder of APP Timber and has been involved in the Asian woodworking industry since 1987. Over 20 years ago he recognised Asia’s need for the supply of imported raw materials. APP Timber is now a leading regional provider of such products, focusing on advice and solutions for buyers using imported raw materials. APP Timber has operations across Asia and is in the process of building a Wood Distribution & Training Centre in Indonesia. Michael liveswithhisSingaporeanwife inKualaLumpur, Malaysia,andtravelsacrosstheglobetomeetpotential raw material suppliers. ABOUT THE AUTHOR