17 Apr 2007

Human rights group says New Zealanders help destroy Papua's precious rainforests

7:48 pm on 17 April 2007

The Indonesia human rights committee says the New Zealand government is allowing its citizens to help destroy the precious native rainforests in the Papua region of Indonesia.

The committee is again calling on the New Zealand government to ban the import of kwila tropical timber, which is mostly sourced in Papua.

Endangered kwila wood has a dominant place in the New Zealand retail market for outdoor wooden furniture and decking timber.

The committee's Maire Leadbeater says Papua's forests are quickly disappearing due to rapacious illegal logging and New Zealand's demand for kwila is helping drive this.

She says it's particularly ironic given the increasing focus on combatting climate change:

"We've all been asked to do things in our daily lives to address that issue, and the government is saying that we should do that and we're serious about emissions. But how can we at the same time be complicit in the depletion of one of the world's most precious resources, in one of the last strands of old growth rainforest in our world?"

Maire Leadbeater of the Indonesia Human Rights Committee.