‘Greenest’ Sydney building using rainforest timber

Posted on July 27, 2011. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/greenest-sydney-building-using-rainforest-timber-20110727-1hz71.html#ixzz1UWF3zTvI

One of Sydney’s “greenest” new building developments – No.1 Central Park on Broadway – is using rainforest timber logged in Malaysia, putting its advertised “five green star” rating at risk.

Seven protesters from Greenpeace were arrested this morning after climbing a 50-metre crane at the building site and unfurling a banner saying “Stop Illegal Timber”.

Tonnes of plywood from a mill in Sarawak, Malaysia, are being used to help build the concrete foundations of the complex, which developer Frasers Property said would “achieve the highest possible environmental rating for the entire precinct”.

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But the wood is not certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council nor the Program for the Enforcement of Forest Certification – the two organisations that verify whether a logging operation can be regarded as sustainable.

The Green Buildings Council of Australia, which controls a building’s “green star” rating, requires a project to use timber certified by one of these agencies if it is to achieve timber credits under a five-star rating.

Photographs of the wood being used on the site showed a logo that was traced back to the Baramas mill in Sarawak.

The mill has been associated with serious breaches of sustainable logging practices over the past two years.

Investigations by Malaysia’s auditor-general and environment groups found that trees had been cut down in an area slated for a national park, protected species habitat had been logged and other logging in banned areas had caused water pollution.

Watpac, the construction company building the Broadway development for Frasers Property, sourced the wood from Australian Wood Panels, a distributor that is wholly owned by Malaysian logging company Samling.

Australian Wood Panels labels its wood “Legal & Sustainable Malaysian Resource”.

It does hold Forestry Stewardship Council for some of its activities, but not for the wood it supplied Watpac for use in No.1 Central Park.

Frasers Property said today it would conduct a thorough audit of all timber on the site, and find out where it was sourced from.

The company said yesterday it was determined to make the development sustainable and meet the five green star criteria if possible.

“To date Frasers have understood that the timber used at Central Park complied with the Green Building Council of Australia’s requirements for 5 Green Star certification,” a spokeswoman for the company said.

“If this proves not to be the case, we will immediately instruct Watpac to address the issue.”

The Green Building Council said it would assess the No.1 Central Park development on its environmental merits.

“If No.1 Central Park can demonstrate that the timber used in the project has been certified by either FSC or PEFC, it will be awarded the appropriate points under the Green Star Timber credit,” the chief executive of the Green Building Council, Romilly Madew, said in a statement.

“If it cannot demonstrate compliance, it will not.”

The Greenpeace protesters were taken to Redfern police station where they are expected to be charged with criminal offences.

Greenpeace forestry campaigner Reece Turner said sourcing sustainable timber was a minefield.

“It is simply a matter of making sure they seek documentation of certification for the source of the product, not simply rely on a company that says it is certified, especially with timber that comes from a tropical rainforest,” Mr Turner said.

“I think this highlights exactly why the government needs to bring in laws to stop the worst of these timbers coming into Australia in the first place.”

An estimated $800 million worth of imported unsustainable timber is sold in Australia each year. The government is developing legislation for tightening rules around illegal timber exports.



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