Illegally logged timber from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea is being used during renovation work at the Houses of Parliament. Greenpeace investigators have found the timber, in the form of at least two tonnes of plywood, in the �5million restructuring of the Press Area. The rainforest wood is protecting floors, stairs and walls while work is being carried out.

And this is the fourth time in as many years that Greenpeace has revealed that the Government is using illegal and unsustainable timber.

As recently as July, Greenpeace exposed the use of the same rainforest plywood at Admiralty Arch, the home of the Cabinet Office. Although the Government initially said they had proof that the timber was from `legal and sustainable' sources, a subsequent internal investigation sent to Greenpeace makes it clear that this was not the case.

The magnificent forests of Papua New Guinea form part of the few remaining significant ancient forests on earth. They are home to many unique species of plants and animals such as the tree kangaroo and the world's largest butterfly, as well as indigenous communities that depend on the forest for their livelihood. But so-called `robber barons' are plundering the rainforest with impunity, their crimes ranging from illegal logging to corruption, torture and rape.

A recent report funded by the UK Government on logging in PNG found that illegality, environmental destruction and corruption were rife. But this remains the place where Blair is getting his timber.

Belinda Fletcher, Greenpeace forests campaigner, said: “It’s a disgrace that Parliament is awash with tropical plywood ripped from the world's last rainforests. While Tony Blair is busy worrying about his legacy, the world's last rainforests are being bulldozed for cheap throwaway products like plywood.

“If the Government is serious about ending its role in rainforest destruction, the UK must sort out its shambolic timber policy by ensuring that only Forest Stewardship Council certified timber is used in public building projects, and by introducing a ban on the import of illegal timber. This is the only way to stop this destructive trade.” Central government procurement accounts for approximately 20% of all the timber used in the UK, while the broader public sector accounts for as much as 40%.

In 2001 Tony Blair promised that the Government would only purchase legal and sustainable timber. However, a combination of weak guidelines and failed implementation has meant that the policy is failing, as the illegal plywood found at the Houses of Parliament and Admiralty Arch shows.


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