The flow of logs from possibly illegal origins in PNG to China hasn’t diminished and FSC auditors have just visited Chinese plywood factories to investigate false labelling claims. This follows similar allegations against some Malaysian FSC plywood.

Amid all this, I was shocked to learn that Indonesian plywood producer PT Tjipta Rimba Djaja, for which CIPTA acts as an agent, has 6,000m³ of genuine FSC-certified logs sitting in its yard with no UK buyer.

It wouldn’t be so depressing if this was just a result of a cyclical low point in the market. But it’s not. Since Greenpeace’s damning Partners in Crime report into its environmental performance, the Indonesian industry has gone into free-fall because its customers switched en masse to China.

This was an easier option short term, but didn’t help Indonesian forestry medium to long term.

Respectable buyers in the UK are buying large volumes of Malaysian ply to avoid China, but still don’t feel they can trust Indonesia four years after Greenpeace’s critical report. Could this be anything to do with the fact that, inexplicably, the respective European GSP rates for Malaysia and Indonesia are 3.5% and 7%?

This situation is all the more extraordinary when minister Barry Gardiner promoted the UK government’s new procurement policy designed to ensure that it only procures sustainable products post March 2009. Why wait until then when the UK government can buy FSC-certified plywood today?

It wouldn’t be so shocking that 6,000m³ of FSC-certified logs are sitting in a log yard in Indonesia with no buyer if there were not so many grand pronouncements about our great environmental ambitions filling the UK media. But that’s what’s happening.

How about the UK industry working its magic and buying this FSC ply? Better still, what about forward orders for ongoing

supplies? Indonesian or otherwise, it is FSC-certified and it should be being used at a UK government building site. Instead, it and CIPTA sit waiting for the phone to ring.