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Indonesia: US Biggest Importer of Illegal Timber

U.S. Newswire
August 6th, 2001

WASHINGTON -- An international ban on the export of a rare tree species comes into effect today to help save Indonesia's rapidly disappearing orangutans. The government of Indonesia banned both the export and domestic trade in ramin (Gonystylus bancanus) due to continued illegal logging of this rare and valuable tree species within several of Indonesia's Orangutan National Parks.

The United States is one of the world's largest importers of ramin, with over $12.3 million in ramin imported from Indonesia in 2000 and $22 million in total from all countries.

Detailed field investigations by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak Indonesia have documented massive commercial illegal logging of this species, in the world-renowned Tanjung Puting National Park, home to one of the largest remaining populations of the endangered orangutan, Asia's only great ape.

Orangutans are highly dependent upon trees for their food, nests and for moving through the forest. In Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, where about 500 orangutans survive, massive illegal logging has devastated much of their habitat.

Orangutan numbers in the wild have declined by 50 percent in the last decade and habitat destruction poses the greatest threat to their survival. Indonesia is home to 80 percent of the world's remaining orangutans.

Allan Thornton the President of the Washington, DC based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), stated today: "This is a unique opportunity for America's consumers to help save the orangutans by refusing to buy ramin products. The ban on ramin from Indonesia provides American consumers with a real chance to help save orangutans from death and extinction. Ramin is imported into the United States and sold as window blinds, picture frames, moldings and pool cues."

The major markets for ramin are the USA, Europe, Japan and China. The CITES listing will enable them to seize imports of Indonesian ramin under their own domestic CITES legislation.





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