In London to promote Malaysia’s developing timber and forestry certification programme, the country’s primary industries minister slammed hard line environmentalist groups for creating an atmosphere of ‘terror’ around the use of tropical hardwood.

Dato’ Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik told a conference attended by around 80 members of the UK timber industry and their customers, that Malaysia was making good progress in the area of sustainable forest management and was looking to ban imports of Indonesian logs following recent media allegations that some were illegally felled.

Given the effort made by the timber industry in this area, he maintained, the hardline green ‘terror’ tactics, intended to cut use of allegedly ‘endangered’ tropical species, were unjustified and would actually damage the rainforests.

Dr Lim was in the UK as part of a European tour presenting the new Malaysian Timber Certification Council (launched January).

He said that Malaysia was taking a ‘phased approach’ to timber certification.

‘In phase one we have established 29 “Malaysian Criteria and Indicators” (MCI) for forestry certification based on the standard used under the Malaysian/Netherlands co-operation programme on timber certification,’ he said.

He added that these MCI were in line with certification standards laid down by the International Tropical Timber Council in 1998 and were supported with a chain of custody system. The third party independent auditing for the Malaysian standard is carried out by the SGS certification body and the scheme also has a label.

‘So people can now purchase timber products carrying the Malaysian certification label,’ said Dr Lim.

&#8220They have created terror in the international timber trade about tropical timber – they are timber terrorists”

Primary industries minister Dato’ Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik

He said that in the next phase a ‘national steering committee’ had been formed to develop the MCI to a total of 50 and to achieve compatibility with the Forest Stewardship Council certification scheme. This would eventually lead, in turn, to the creation of an FSC national working group, with the aim of FSC endorsement for the Malaysian certification programme.

He added that, as part of Malaysia’s sustainable forestry effort, he would be pressing for a total ban on imports of logs from Indonesia, currently running at about 1 million m3 a year.

Against this background, he condemned the tropical timber stance of some green groups.

‘They have created terror in the international timber trade about tropical timber – they are timber terrorists,’ he said.

He also urged the Forest Stewardship Council to be ‘more flexible’ in recognition of other certification schemes. ‘No-one has a god given right to say what is and what is not sustainable,’ he said. ‘They should not have a monopoly in this area. It is not good for the forests or the industry.’

On his visit, Dr Lim was also meeting the UK environment minister Michael Meacher and was due to be interviewed by the BBC.