Jewson says it trusts its Amazon timber suppliers - but it won't once it reads this

Posted by Richardg — 24 May 2014 at 9:58am - Comments
All rights reserved. Credit: © Greenpeace / Daniel Beltra
Deforestation and illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest

Jewson is selling timber from the Amazon - where more than half the logging is illegal. Jewson says it trusts its suppliers, but we thought we'd investigate further - and you'll never guess what we found out. 

It's amazing what you can find on the internet.

Last week, we asked why Jewson was selling garden decking made from Amazon trees. The Amazon is rife with illegal logging - in one state, almost 80% of logging is illegal - and we wanted to know what checks Jewson was making on its suppliers. How did it know it could trust them?

Jewson told us not to worry.

It knew exactly where its decking came from. It had bought from two Brazilian timber exporters, Solimad Madeiras and Condor Floresta Industrial Madeiras, and they had provided all the right paperwork.

Call us suspicious, but we weren't convinced. It turns out that we were right to want to know more.

Like many players in the Brazilian logging industry, Jewson's Brazilian suppliers have been convicted for illegal logging. Several times, in fact.

Solimad Madeiras had been caught on six separate occasions in possession of illegal timber; on two instances, it had stockpiled over 1,500 cubic metres of lumber with no papers or proof of origin. In 2011, Condor Florestas had illegally cleared over 1,000 hectares of rainforest. It was fined over R$5 million (£1,200,000) and banned from the region.

Of course, this doesn't means that the decking Jewson bought from Condor Florestas and Solimad Madeiras is illegal. Maybe the habitual criminals that supplied it have given up their life of crime.

But seeing all those fines should make you a bit suspicious, especially as Solimad Madeiras also has three separate convictions, twice in 2009 and once in 2012, for selling or transporting timber with counterfeit documents.

Those documents are the same type of paperwork given to Jewson's parent company, International Timber, to prove the timber it had bought was legal. The same paperwork their salesman told us was "not worth much more than what it's written on."

Tell Jewson to stop selling suspect timber from the Amazon rainforest.

This research wasn't difficult: it took us just a few hours. You can even do it yourself: the Brazilian government has an online database of environmental court cases. But even if you didn't know that, just searching on Google brings up references to court cases involving the two companies on the website of the environmental police, IBAMA. 

Try it for yourself: Solimad Madeiras and Condor Floresta.

Here are just some of the crimes we found:

Solimad Madeiras

Timber laundering and fake papers

  • 19/05/2009 – fined R$5,700 for selling 18 cubic metres of timber with dodgy paperwork (GF3 documents)
  • 04/11/2009 – fined R$16,275 for selling 54 cubic metres of timber with dodgy paperwork (GF3 documents)
  • 30/03/2012 – fined R$20,000 for submitting false information to the official timber regulatory system (DOF paperwork)

Possessing and selling illegal timber

  • 14/08/2009 – fined R$36,032 for having 120 cubic metres of timber without official paperwork
  • 14/08/2009 – fined R$109,370 for selling 364 cubic metres of timber without a license to trade it
  • 23/11/2009 – fined R$567,022 for having 1,890 cubic metres of timber without official paperwork
  • 23/112009 – fined R$434,689 for selling 1,448 cubic metres of timber without a license to trade it
  • 07/12/2010 – fined R$361,696 for selling 1,272 cubic metres of timber without a license
  • 07/12/2010 – fined R$204,085 for having 680 cubic metres of timber without official paperwork

It’s also got two other fines for breaking forestry laws:

  • 11/11/2009 – fined R$60,000
  • 28/06/2013 – fined R$500,000

Condor Floresta

  • 06/05/2002 – fined R$137,000 for clearing 914 ha of forest illegally
  • 25/04/2011 – fined R$5,225,000 and banned from an area of forest for clearing 1,045 ha of forest illegally
  • 22/08/2011 – fined R$13,205 for transporting 44 cubic metres of timber without a license

Jewson should have known better, but in truth, this story isn't unusual. This is just what the Amazon timber industry is like. It's hard to find anyone who hasn't had a run in with the authorities at some point, let alone a sawmill or exporter that hasn't at some time processed some suspect timber - whether they knew it at the time or not.

Which is why timber traders and anyone looking to buy Amazon timber need to make absolutely certain that what they have is legal. They can't just trust the loggers or the paperwork they offer - they have to check for themselves - and if they're not absolutely convinced then they must make do with another species from a safer part of the world

Jewson didn't do its homework, and now its got a depot full of suspect timber it can't in good conscience sell. It must take it off the shelves immediately.

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