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Action Alert: Chinese Olympic Committee Must Independently Prove Olympic Torch Not Burning World's Rainforests

Beijing Olympics 2008: Destroying Papua's Ancient Rainforests to Raise the Olympic Torch

By, a project of EcoInternet - May 1, 2006

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Additional Background

UPDATE June 11 - In response to Chinese denial of using ancient "virgin" rainforest timbers in Olympic construction, the sample letter has been updated to demand independent inspections to confirm their dubious claims of running a "Green" and ancient rainforest free Olympics.

Consider this: It has been widely reported and announced by the Indonesian government that China is to import endangered timbers for Beijing 2008 Olympic construction. According to the Center for International Forestry Research, China's import of round wood (unprocessed logs) is expected to reach 100 million cubic meters by 2010, a six fold increase in timber imports over 2002, when it was 16 million cubic meters (which is 16 times more than the figure for 1997). Greenpeace reports that in 2004 China imported at least 1.9 million cubic meters of timber associated with illegal trade. According to China Customs, China’s timber imports surged during the first quarter of 2006 by 18 percent to 8.1 million cubic meters. Around 80 percent of timber from Indonesia and 90 percent from Papua New Guinea is harvested illegally.

It has been estimated that China's construction of infrastructure to host the Olympics will consume tens of millions of cubic meters of primary forestry products, including solid wood flooring, which could amount to one half of China's annual timber imports. Where will this massive amount of timber come from? We need more than a cursory, dismissive and unsubstantiated response to this burning question from the Chinese Olympic Committee.

With 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 rainforest timbers from Indonesia's Papua province to be used in construction for the games. A proposed timber processing factory would industrially harvest 800,000 cubic meters of the famous and threatened merbau (intsia spp) rainforest timbers, to be exported to China for the construction of sports facilities.

Indonesia's Papua province on the island of New Guinea has some of the world's last remaining large intact rainforests. These rainforests are millions of years old, contain untold biodiversity and evolutionary history, and provide critical regional and global ecosystem processes including climate regulation through their storage of massive amounts of carbon. These priceless ancient rainforests have come under severe pressure from the rampant illegal logging of merbau and granting of massive logging concessions. China already consumes almost all of the estimated 300,000 cubic meters of merbau smuggled out of Papua every month.

Merbau is a dark, luxurious, red wood that is primarily used for the manufacturing of hardwood floors. The merbau tree is endemic in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Irian, as well as in neighboring Papua New Guinea. Experts forecast that China's drive to develop its infrastructure to host the Olympics will consume tens of millions of cubic meters of primary forest products. Setting up the timber plant in Papua was the only way that the company could meet its timber needs as the Indonesia government has banned the export of round logs since 2001.

An investment of this size will only serve to legitimize and further fuel illegal, highly unsustainable, and ecologically devastating logging, ensuring the destruction of this critically threatened ancient rainforest. 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 ancient rainforest timbers of questionable legality and morality. Please insist the Chinese government and Olympic committee commit to hosting an "old-growth, ancient forest free" Olympics.

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Logging Ancient Rainforests to Raise the Olympic T
Raping of Indonesia's Rainforests for once off sporting event anathema to Olympic Spirit 

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