Dr Paul Toyne, head of the WWF-UK forest programme, responds to the Malaysian Timber Council‘s criticism of a recent WWF report

WWF welcomes the views expressed by the August 2002 editorial of Hardwoodmarkets.com entitled “Damned lies and statistics”. The editorial highlighted the need for more rigorous and consistent data of traded timber and wood products. WWF would certainly endorse this view and suggest that there needs to be a major review in the way trade data is collected. Without more robust data how can the impacts of policies aimed at improving governance within the forestry sector be measured?

Our report “The Timber Footprint of G8 and China: making the case for green procurement” is based on the most up-to-date trade data available at the time of analysis. It provides a ‘snapshot’ of where we are now, as well as recommendations for actions needed with respect to responsible government procurement policies. It was meant to stimulate debate and provide solutions.

The response by Mr SK Tham of the Malaysian Timber Council to our report was partly misleading. Our report does state that there have been improvements in forest law enforcement in Malaysia; however, some of these improvements are offset by their exports of illegal timber imported from Indonesia. WWF hopes that the current Malaysia ban on imports of Indonesian logs (announced after the report was written) will have the desired impact.

WWF concur with Mr Tham’s opinion that we all have a duty to be fair, impartial and objective. We would also call upon those involved in the harvesting and trade in timber to adhere to these principles. If only the harvesting and trade in timber was legal, sustainable and fair to all stakeholders – then reports like ours would not be needed.