Beijing, China 2008 Olympics: Destroying Ancient Rainforests to Raise the Torch

From Rainforest Portal, a project of EcoInternet, Inc.,
Contact: Dr. Glen Barry,
Rainforest logsWith two-and-a-half years to go until the start of the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing China, the Chinese government and Olympic Committee have recently placed a $1 billion rush order for endangered ancient rainforest timbers. They are to be industrially logged from Indonesia's Papua province to be used in construction for the games.
This weekend the Rainforest Portal and EcoInternet's global ecological advocacy network launched a campaign against this Olympic rainforest tragedy at Already several hundred thousand protest emails have been sent to the Chinese and other national Olympic committees. Many dozens of email accounts have been filled and shut down around the world.

In explaining the rationale for the protest, Dr. Glen Barry notes “it is outrageous that China's Olympic facilities are to be constructed from ancient rainforests. It is against the Olympic ideals of bringing 'people together in peace to respect universal moral principles' when the events are housed in facilities constructed with timbers of questionable legality and morality. The Olympics should stand for peace and justice, not deforestation and ecosystem collapse.”
Indonesia's Papua province on the island of New Guinea has some of the world's last remaining large intact rainforests. The proposed timber processing factory would industrially harvest 800,000 cubic meters of the famous and threatened merbau (intsia spp) rainforest timbers, destroying huge swathes of ancient rainforests, to be exported to China for the construction of sports facilities.
China's demand for timber following a ban on logging in their own country is devastating ancient rainforests around the world and particularly in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. An investment of this size will only serve to legitimize and further fuel illegal, highly unsustainable, and ecologically devastating logging, ensuring the destruction of the world last large and critically threatened ancient forests.
The campaign is calling upon the Chinese government and Olympic committee to commit to hosting an “old-growth, ancient forest free” Olympics. As a start, the purchase of these Indonesian rainforest timbers must be cancelled. Failure to do so will permanently tarnish China and the Olympics' reputation.

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12 Responses

  1. John says:

    Have sent it to the list-serves for the Sierra Club Wildlife & Endangered
    Species Forum and for the Oriental Bird Club (UK) that has a lot of members
    in Indonesia and neighboring countries including many professionals at
    various Asian universities and institutes.

  2. Marian says:

    Already forwarded to about 10 caring friends (including Maria Cantwell and KUOW-FM). Thank you for the info. I hope it helps–I was just last month reading an article (National Geographic?) about the indigenous people living in the rainforest of New Guinea who are being illegally bulldozed out of their homeland by Indonesian loggers.

  3. Louis says:

    Dear Glen-
    Monsoon Asia does seem to me to lag behind much of the
    globe presently in attempts to restore depleted
    ecosystems. Now, although I think that many other
    areas of the globe are now falling behind in this area
    partly due to Asia's increasing economic voracity, it
    seems that an ecological awareness has been
    intentionally (and almost completely) removed from
    many Asian countries' political and economic agendas.
    Monsoon Asia's ecosystems have long been known to have
    been generally depleted (certainly long before China
    emerged as the economic 'dragon' and voracious
    tropical timber consumer it now is).
    Certainly China could afford to underwrite
    reforestation programs in monsoon Asia countries. If
    the forests of this region were replenished and
    managed on something close to a sustainable basis it
    might well prove of greater economic benefit to these
    countries–including China's–than the disastrous
    course towards complete destruction we can currently
    observe in places like Indonesia. The great
    dipterocarp forests of the region are known to be
    capable of producing repeated, large, and profitable
    harvests of timber–if they are managed well (which
    they very seldom are of course and the region's
    economy might improve if they were).
    So I think one possibility for organizations like would be to appeal to China to invest in
    restoration of damaged forests and other ecosystems in
    monsoon Asia (especially as China is now partly
    responsible for the distressing current situation
    there). Ecosystems restoration might prove to be the
    light at the tunnel for Asia's increasingly depleted
    ecosystems. Anything would be an improvement given the
    situation of Indonesia etc.

  4. David says:

    Then begin at least a semblance of advocating replanting instead of grasping at straws. Yes the world will experience degradation with 7 billion people. Maybe we should offer the chinese American and Candian wood instead.
    REPLY: Large ancient forests are needed for the global ecosystem to function. Replanting has its role but tree farms are not the same as millions of year old ecosystems. We should cut consumption as we plant native species and protect the last large forests as ecosystem reserves and models for ecological restoration.

  5. David says:

    Hi Glen,
    Some good needs to come out of this fiasco.
    Can their appetite for timber be partially redirected to purchasing managed
    ecotimber? Portable sawmill-based. A global network of community based and
    managed portable sawmillers.
    Combined aid capital and investment capital building equitable and
    profitable social enterprises.
    Fortunately, with every disaster comes opportunity.
    We can offer an alternative or at least a partial solution to China's and
    the Olympics perceived needs. A solution with good PR possibilities. Good
    advert for this type of forestry management as well.
    This network/company could also provide the timber needed in reconstruction
    for natural and other man made disasters through humanitarian aid
    organizations, etc.
    Can we use this disaster to jump start a better solution?
    Your thoughts, Dr. Barry?
    RESPONSE: I wonder if it is possible to provide 800,000 cubic meters of sustainable eco-timber in the time frame they have in mind. In this case I think the emphasis needs to be on not using any ancient forests. I have grown very questioning of eco-forestry and know of very few working models. In my opinion the whole thing was a trojan horse that just relegitmized logging ancient rainforests which we need for life.

  6. Anita says:

    Thank you and we have send it to many of our friends in care2

  7. Baerbel says:

    Hi Glen,
    I very quickly searched the website of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing and found this page about “Green Olympics”:
    Logging rainforests in Indonesia surely doesn't fit what is proclaimed in these starting paragraphs of their green-policy statement:
    [Begin quote]
    During the preparation process of both 2008 summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games:
    (1) Use the concept of sustainable development such as environmental protection, conservation of resources, and maintenance of ecological balance to guide venue construction, marketing, procurement, logistics, accommodation, catering and large-scale events in order to minimize the negative impacts on the environment and ecological system;
    (2) Support the government in strengthening the construction of environmental in frastructure, improving the ecological environment, and promoting the sustainable and harmonious development of economy, society and environment;
    (3) Make full use of the widespread influence of the Olympic movement to carry out environmental communication and education, promote public participation in environmental protection, and raise the public awareness of environment.
    After the 2008 Games, leave a rich environmental legacy to Beijing, China and the world sports: construction projects demonstrating agreen Olympics; a new pattern of environmental management for holding large-scale sports events; a mechanism for the public to take an active part in environmental protection; and continuous improvement of the environment in Beijing.
    [End quote]
    I haven't read the complete document (just don't have the timr right now), and you may already have found this as well, but we should really make them adhere to their own policy!
    Greetings from Germany

  8. Ann says:

    Hi Glen,
    Your email yesterday made me so disgusted and sick to the pit of my stomach and was actually sick. China is doing more to destroy this planet than any other country in its rush to seem the most successful. They will spend billions on a “showcase Olympics” to show they are the greatest most successful nation while their own people are starving, the upper classes are the only one that matter and this is we are led to believe a communist country. I didn't like communism Glen but at least then it was share and share alike even if there was nothing to share everyone was in the same boat.
    They should never have been granted the Olympics in the first place their human rights record is disgraceful. They are even beating up young gymnasts, etc. to “perform to win” and the whole world turns a blind eye why? Sorry Glen no one will care a damn that a few more million trees were destroyed (and us with them I hope). They will just think how wonderful the buildings and wish they had that wood in their own homes, government offices, etc. The new Scottish Parliament building proving the point. It has gone millions over budget because of all the oak they are using, the main chamber table (don't know what to call it) is enormous made of beautiful grained oak all matching of course, I wonder how many trees were felled and discarded I just hope they were used for the doors and seats and not turned into paper.
    More importantly to me Glen, even than beating kids (I have had more than enough of people we are scum) is the fact that they will of course be selling more of their bloody natural remedies, how many tigers, rhinos and everything else will give up their lives for the millions attending and who will of course try “Chinese medicine” even if nothing wrong with them (because it does you good).
    Sorry Glen you wrote at the wrong time dear and are getting my Sunday rant. Sorry I knew the “Heart of Borneo” was only a PR exercise (remember I warned you) but God didn't tell/warn me it would happen this quickly and you wouldn't have believed me anyway, nor the reason man's greed to show the world how important they are, “look at all the money we have spent for the best of everything”.
    I was disgusted when one of our own top ex athletes now Sir Seb Coe actually went to China on a fact finding exercise about what was going on (thought up till then he was an honourable man) with human rights. Sadly no report has been published obviously stopped by our government as well as the Olympic Committee who have chosen Bejing and will go there and turn a blind eye to what goes on, after all they will never leave the Olympic complex. If someone put bears in cages at the entrance and were selling their bile “fresh on demand” people would stand and watch it happening and then use it because “it is good for you”.
    People go to the Arctic, Greenland, etc. to watch those wonderful marine life called whales and then buy souvenirs made from their ivory, how long before they are all dead and they caused it.
    Sorry Glen I honestly and truthfully believe now humans will continue destroying this planet because of course it does not affect them. Those same people who sign all your petitions are all having the best most beautiful wooden furniture even their roof supports aren't made from the cheapest rubbish bits, they drive a few hundred years in their gas guzzling 4×4's for show flying round the world visiting exotic places before they are destroyed as they “must” see them first.
    Sorry Glen I am probably a hypocrite too, I am wearing clothes that are over 30 years old because I look after them, I never have believed in change for change sake, I have no heating only a gas fire what more do I want. The curtains, carpets, etc. were here when I bought the house they suit me the curtains are coming apart so what. I only replace something when it has broken completely or I do without. That is just me I have always been that way “a freak a joke”. I don't earn a lot so no money in the bank as long as I have enough to get by what more do I need, I am “officially” a pensioner now but still keep working as I was born to work and as long as they let me I will. My next door neighbour gave up work about 15 years ago, (they still can't find what is wrong with her) yet she lives on benefits and spends as if there is no tomorrow and sorry Glen she is a complete vegetable I was asked by a friend if she was “mentally backward” no just bone idle she had a good job in accounts so must have a brain which is used to squeeze every last cent out of the system. Her garden is full of cheap tat ornaments apart from the solid oak table and chairs used for a barbecue for the two of them once in a blue moon in summer they only take 5 minutes to eat and back inside. They had a solid oak bench too but after 6 months it wasn't “new” so got rid of it. The Blob as I call her spends all her days changing plants in her tubs and pots (all artificial peat compost of course, soil has bugs in it) and 4 changes of clothes a day which mean a line full of washing every day, we have to pay for water so use it. Even though it has rained all this winter in Lancashire the hosepipe is permanently out to keep her plants well watered while the piece of grass is under water but wouldn't have a water butt “because we have to pay for water we have to get our money's worth God gives us it free and the Water Board have the cheek to charge us for it” I gave up 20 years ago trying to explain the logistics of getting the water to the taps, when I suggested as it was free why didn't they use rain water “oh no that's dirty”. Pig ignorant I give up. I have a compost bin being on my own I don't have much to put in it so asked for their kitchen waste, grass, etc. and they thought I was mad “it stinks” is what I got, Glen it is in a bin the other side of my garden to theirs and I have lovely soil but nope they would rather use peat as the adverts say it is best. I wonder if I took out an advert (all glitz of course) telling the world to kill themselves for which I would charge a big fee would they do it? Probably just to be the first to try something new.
    I read an article this week by a scientist who said the only way to save the planet is to kill 90% of the population IMMEDIATELY as you know I would do more I would press that red button any time. Going vegetarian will not work there are not enough plants on the planet to feed everyone.
    Sorry Glen you know I support you in all your efforts and always will, I only do it for the birds (my only friends) animals and the earth (dirt) itself. I am a complete freak I hate waste always have done as I said things fall apart before I replace them. I only live because I have to God doesn't want me either. At the moment I am fighting the illegal slaughter of birds in Malta (those birds I never see in my garden any more because they killed them Greenfinches). I will fight to the end for birds Glen I naively envy them their freedom to come and go as they please not tied to the earth and timetables. What freedom is it to be blasted into a million pieces not for food but by barbaric mens blood lust to prove they are men. If I was brave enough I would go there and get myself shot maybe shooting a person may get in the papers but I doubt it. God seems to think I am more use writing letters making people aware of what is going on I have had terrific support from the people I work with which amazed me (but English are soft on creatures you know that) although some treat their own badly.
    I will be here at the end Glen still ranting to you and everybody else, not that it does any good but at least I will be here to Say “I told you so” at the end.
    With kind regards always
    Ann Chaplin
    The Cynic “Doom and Gloom” IT WILL HAPPEN

  9. John Wood says:

    Well, this really is a distressing message. And further investigation
    reveals how much rainforest devastation is going on in Indonesia already.
    I have taken part in your alert and have also written to the papers, the
    International Olympic Committee and the British Olympic Association.
    Unfortunately the media in the UK seem only interested in whether the Deputy
    Prime Minister slept with his secretary and similar earth-shattering 'news'.
    This and other major environmental stories are just ignored.
    John Wood

  10. Rick Zeamer says:

    I think it is disgraceful and heartless for China to waste huge areas of irreplaceable rain forest for something so trivial as the olympic games. I do wish they would show a more mature and kindly attitude to the natural world. Remember the Panda.
    He's worth more than showy olympic woodwork.

  11. David says:

    Hello Glen,
    I think this destruction is an outrage. I belive the construction creqw should go on strike! What does China's governement think of the destruction? The land and/or endangered animals are an important aspect of the Earth and China. As some say,”The rainforests are the lungs of the Earth!”

  12. Ross Pooley says:

    DISGUSTING! A real tradegy. I'm too angry for words.

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