EU and Indonesia sign sustainable timber pact

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EU and Indonesia sign sustainable timber pact

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Indonesia and the EU have signed a deal aimed at stopping illegally sourced timber.

Destruction of the world’s rain forests, particularly those growing in peat, is seen as one of the main causes of man-made climate change, due to the vast amounts of carbon released. Indonesia is thought to be the planet’s third biggest emitter of harmful green house gases.

The agreement should mean that from 2013 all firms exporting wood from the East Asian nation will have to prove it has been logged sustainably.

Similar deals have been done with four African nations, but Indonesia is by far the largest timber exporter.

Speaking to euronews, European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht said: “It’s on a voluntary basis, but in practice very soon you will need that certificate to be in a position to export to the European market, that’s what it is really about. So you are not forced to have the certificate, but if you don’t have the certificate, within a couple of years, you won’t be able to export any more to the European market.”

Until recently, about half of the timber exported from Indonesia was illegally harvested. About 20 percent of all the country’s wood – legal and illegal – goes to the EU.

Since the 1950s logging, particularly on Indonesia’s Island of Borneo, has been carried out on an industrial scale. It has had huge environmental consequences. In the 15 years from 1990 to 2005, Indonesia is estimated to have lost enough forest to cover the entire landmass of the Philippines.

Home to some of the planet’s most precious forests and wildlife, it is hoped the latest deal will go some way to protecting its eco-system.