FSC chain of custody no guarantee against timber smuggling in the Mekong Region

Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telepak release a report about illegal logging in the Mekong Region. The report, titled “Borderlines: Vietnam’s Booming Furniture Industry and Timber Smuggling in the Mekong Region” documents how timber is illegally transported from Laos to Vietnam, where it is made into furniture. Furniture exports from Vietnam are expanding dramatically, relying on huge quantities of illegally-logged timber from Laos and Cambodia.

Much of the furniture is exported to the US and the EU. EIA/Telepak found that some of the furniture is being sold in the UK, advertised as being FSC-certified. EIA gives the example ofYour Price Furniture, an Internet trading site which sells garden furniture manufactured from keruing and balau. Your Price Furniture’s website claims: “All timber is sourced from factories that have FSC (Forestry [sic] Stewardship Council) chain of custody certification ensuring that the timber originates from renewable sources.”

your_price

EIA/Telepak contacted Your Price Furniture who provided two chain of custody certificate codes for two Vietnamese factories – IMC II Company and Quoc Thang. Your Price Furniture receives all of its keruing furniture from IMC II Company and all of its balau furniture from Quoc Thang. EIA/Telepak’s investigations in Vietnam revealed that while Quoc Thang buys FSC certified balau from Malysia, it also buys yellow balau timber from the Vietnamese firm Tien Dat which was logged in Laos.

tien_dat

PHOTO: Logs from Laos in Tien Dat’s factory – EIA/Telepak’s investigations revealed that Quoc Thang buys Lao timber from Tien Dat.

EIA/Telepak’s report notes that Your Price Furniture’s balau products are not FSC-certified and that it is “highly likely the company is buying furniture made from Laos logs imported illegally into Vietnam”.

Both Quoc Thang and Tien Dat have been awarded FSC chain of custody certificates by SGS (SGS-COC-0773 and SGS-COC-1184, respectively). How is it possible that SGS failed to notice that the Tien Dat is trading timber that has been illegally imported from Laos? Or that Quoc Thang bought some of that timber?

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