Home improvement retailer B&Q has announced plans to stop using illegal timber supplies in China and guarantee within three years all products will be from certified responsible forestry programs.
At a press conference in Beijing, B&Q Asia's Chief Executive Officer Steve Gilman said that the company has started working to ensure that all the timber products it sells in China come from legal sources. B&Q also guaranteed that, within three years, all product lines it sells in China will come from certified ecologically responsible forestry operations, in keeping with its parent company Kingfisher's global purchasing policy. The company's issued statement does not say, however, if the company will ensure that sales overseas will come from reputable sources.
Greenpeace China's Campaign Director Lo Sze Ping said, "Unless all companies that trade in timber products make concerted efforts, like B&Q, to clean up the timber trade and ensure that their wood comes from ecologically responsible sources, they will inadvertently contribute to global deforestation and to climate change. Companies operating in China have a particular onus to take action because China is now the world's largest importer of tropical wood and the rapid expansion of this sector is having a direct impact on the world's forests."
Greenpeace says only one fifth of the world's original forest remain in large, relatively undisturbed tracts. Two months ago, Greenpeace also revealed that many timber species commonly sold in home improvement stores across China come from countries where up to 80% of the logging is illegal and destructive.
B&Q has also stopped selling flooring made from merbau, a tropical species that comes almost exclusively from the Island of New Guinea and is under serious threat of extinction in the wild.
"Despite our best efforts to assess the sources of our merbau flooring, we were unable to gain sufficient assurance that it was coming from legal operations," Gilman said. "As a result, the only responsible choice we can make right now is to stop buying or selling this product, even though it has historically been one of our top sellers."
Greenpeace is calling on companies around the world to stop selling timber that comes from illegal and destructive sources. It is also calling on governments to ban illegally and destructively logged timber from entering their countries, and on countries that have intact forest landscapes to adopt a moratorium on logging in these areas until comprehensive participatory land-use planning has been completed.