Malaysian Robber Barons a Primary Threat to World’s Biodiversity
Malaysia to Host Biodiversity Conference as Concern Mounts Regarding Conduct of Its Timber Industry
Malaysia's timber cartels are destroying many of the World's remaining primary forests – particularly rainforests – through predatory logging and marketing of illegal timber. These robber barons are doing so in a way that tramples upon human rights, national sovereignty, the rule of law, and biodiversity and ecosystems. Against this background, Malaysia is set to host the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity next week (frequently referred to as the “Biodiversity Treaty”).
The illegal and highly ecologically damaging conduct of the Malaysian timber industry is justifiably drawing a lot of attention. As Forests.org has been amongst the first to highlight to the international community over past years, new reports on the eve of the Biodiversity meeting illustrate the degree to which Malaysia's timber industry and government are responsible for threats upon the world's remaining large and biodiversity rich primary forests.
A new report by Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak (local Indonesian group) highlights the degree to which illegal trade in ramin – largely enabled by Malaysian timber interests – is threatening some of Indonesia's last remaining national parks and scores of the world's endangered species, including orang-utans and the Sumatran tiger. It is alleged that the Malaysian government is permitting and perhaps facilitating this illegal trade.
Greenpeace's new report entitled “The Untouchables” states that in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Malaysian logging companies routinely resort to corruption, payoffs, human rights abuses – and occasionally even condone torture and rape – all in order to carry out extremely environmentally and socially damaging ancient forest liquidation. Rimbunan Hijau of Malaysia, which dominates PNG's timber industry and politics, is exposed as one of the major players in global forest crime.
These reports highlight the degree to which global trade in illegal and destructively logged timber from the Earth's last fully intact and operable forest ecosystems is out of control. While Malaysian timber interests bear much of the responsibility for unlawful access to forest resources, environmental damage and forest destruction, human rights abuses and social dislocation of forest-dwelling peoples in some of the poorest areas of the world, one must not forget these activities are ultimately driven by those who buy timber and timber products from illegal sources.
Mirroring Forests.org's dark green forest conservation message of the past decade, Greenpeace states: “Twenty percent of the Earth's original forest cover remains as large intact areas, with more than a third of these under threat. Industrial-scale logging poses the single largest menace to the forests' survival. Across the globe, transnational corporations continue to operate destructively, and often outside of the law, as they harvest the world's last remaining accessible forest resources.”
Predatory logging by Malaysian companies, and the failure of their government to stop it, threatens “the diversity of life on Earth that provides the natural services we need for our health and well being. Those services include things like cleaning our air and water, maintaining fertile soils, and stabilizing our climate”, as discussed by David Suzuki below.
For the Biodiversity meeting to be successful, it is critical that nations move beyond assessing the damage, and act to slow and reverse habitat loss and degradation through pursuit of a specific, adequately funded and time-bound agenda. Crimes against forests and their biodiversity are an important and visible, and thus relatively easy to address, component of biodiversity loss. For the meeting to achieve actual biodiversity conservation outcomes, member nations must be compelled to shut down their rogue loggers and markets for their ill-gotten products.
Forests.org was one of the first organizations to highlight the threat to the World's rainforest poised by renegade Malaysian loggers, and continues to consistently offer a “dark green” vision of ending industrial logging in the world's remaining primary ancient forests. The barbarous treatment by Malaysian logging robber barons of ancient forests and indigenous cultures are acts of global ecocide and genocide and must be confronted. Forests.org looks forward to continuing to do so, particularly in the coming weeks, and hope you will join us. More next week…
New Report Referred to Above:
Profiting from Plunder: How Malaysia Smuggles Endangered Wood