Stores divided over calls to ban kwila

By Eloise Gibson

Big stores are divided over whether to continue stocking kwila, the endangered tropical hardwood often used for outdoor furniture and decking.

Harvey Norman, Big Save, The Warehouse, Briscoes and Farmers have said they will stop selling kwila when existing stocks run out.

But other chains, including Placemakers and Mitre 10 and Bunnings Warehouse say they will continue to sell the popular timber.

New Zealand is coming under international pressure to stop selling kwila because of concerns about the illegal logging of forests in Indonesian-controlled West Papua and Papua New Guinea.

Forestry Minister Jim Anderton was due back in the country last night after meeting the Indonesian forestry and agriculture ministers in Jakarta.

On the agenda was New Zealand's progress at slowing illegal logging, including the logging of kwila.

The Green Party has said that nearly all of New Zealand's tropical kwila imports come, often illegally, from dwindling forests in West Papua and Papua New Guinea.

The wood is often sent from Indonesia to China, where it is processed for export.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said Mr Anderton should be asking the Indonesian ministers to stop the trade in illegal logging by cracking down on their own military.

Indonesian kwila campaigner Septer Manufandu has said that the Indonesian military co-ordinates the foreign companies doing the illegal logging in West Papua.

As part of its plan to combat dodgy logging, the Government has agreed in principle that all kwila imports should carry a label saying whether the supplier can verify the wood is legal.

But Mr Anderton has stopped short of banning illegally logged timber, saying it is too difficult to spot.

He has put the onus on consumers, saying shoppers should ask questions and know what they are buying.

At the moment there is no way for shoppers to tell whether kwila products in New Zealand shops are legal.

Placemakers chief executive David Edwards said the company was working with UK charity the Tropical Forest Trust to try to obtain kwila from responsible plantations. He was also looking for replacement products that were as durable as kwila and could be sold at a similar price.

He said the company was meeting a customer demand by selling kwila.

Mitre 10 national marketing manager Peter Stewart said that company was also working with the Tropical Forest Trust on a certification system.
Tips for buying outdoor furniture

Use outdoor furniture made from New Zealand hardwood plantations of timber such as macrocarpa or eucalyptus. Some other types of hardwood can be stained to look as good as kwila.

Look for products approved by the Tropical Forest Trust or the Forestry Stewardship Council.

For a long-lasting alternative to tropical hardwood, use wicker or aluminium furniture.

- NZ Herald

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