"This is a highly prized species for luxury goods and the market demand in China as well as in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific is driving merbau to extinction,'' said Tamara Stark, Greenpeace China's Forests Campaign Coordinator.
"If the current trends are not reversed, even at the current legally approved rates of logging, merbau will be extinct in the wild within 35 years. This illegal trade means we'll lose it much sooner than that.''
China has the second-largest wood manufacturing sector in the world, and is the largest trader in tropical timber.
|China is the largest trader in tropical timber, |
much of it from South-East Asia [EPA]
According to Greenpeace one out of every two tropical logs traded globally is now destined for China, and China is the world's largest market for merbau.
Much of the timber is destined for markets in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia, with companies often unable to prove the legality of the timber, the group said.
Greenpeace did not name any foreign companies that are buying the questionable wood, but it called on the governments of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to propose merbau for listing on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species to better control its trade.
"These traders are risking China's reputation and the future of the industry, not to mention the future of the world's forests"
Liu Bing, Greenpeace China
It also called on governments in market countries such as the United States and Europe to immediately adopt legislation to ban the import of illegal timber into their markets.
Wood manufacturers, it said, should also adopt credible tracking of merbau and other species to ensure the legality and sustainability of supply, moving toward purchasing timber that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
"If the manufacturing sector here continues to rely on endangered species or wood that is illegal, large portions of the industry may collapse in the near future,'' said Liu Bing, a Greenpeace Forests Campaigner in China.
"Increasingly species like merbau are being pushed to the brink, and eventually we're going to run out. These traders are risking China's reputation and the future of the industry, not to mention the future of the world's forests.''