Activists call on Trade Me to stop sale of kwila

On Thursday 27 March activists took to the windy streets of Wellington to tell TradeMe to stop allowing sales of Kwila. Here's a report from the NZPA and some images from frogblog.

With the message 'Trade Me, not trade trees,' 15 activists today challenged auction website Trade Me to stop the sale of illegally-logged kwila on its site.

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee, rainforest activists, and Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty met chief executive Jon McDonald outside his office with a letter -- the third since April.

The committee has been lobbying to stop the trade of kwila, which it says comes illegally from dwindling forests in Papua New Guinea and West Papua for years.

Spokeswoman Maire Leadbeater said progress had been made with The Warehouse, the BBQ Factory, and Harvey Norman boycotting kwila, but about 200 products, including decking timber and furniture, continued to be sold on Trade Me every day.

"When kwila products are listed for sale on the internet, they generally do not make any reference to certification and most potential buyers would not be aware that they were considering buying a product sourced from a once pristine, old forest."

She said the deforestation affects the environment, and is tragedy for the indigenous people in West Papua, who rely on the ancient forests for food, water, and medicine.

Ms Delahunty said a small percentage of kwila was sold with Forest Stewardship Council certification, but if in doubt, people should not buy it.

"The products of it undermines forestry industry. It undermines the sovereignty of the countries where people don't want their forests destroyed. And it undermines the environment," she said.

Mr McDonald said he would consider the proposal, but couldn't guarantee anything.

"Whenever we look at these things, we look at a full range of options. Everything from an outright ban to more information on our site, so that our consumers and our sellers know about the issue."

He said he would think about the proposal and consult with experts and government departments for advice.

"We do want to do the right thing in these kind of issues. We need to go away and do some homework," he said.

You can read more about the campaign to stop imports of Kwila and other tropical timbers at the Rainforest Action blog.


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