Struggle for sustainable forestry in Malaysia

Professor Helias Udo de Haes (CML), a member of the Dutch Timber Procurement Assessment Committtee (TPAC), describes the newest development on the advice of the committee about forestry in Malaysia to the Dutch government.

'Recently there has been some news about the work of the Dutch Timber Procurement Assessment Committee (TPAC), of which I am the chair. In a court case, Dutch NGOs had sued the Dutch government for its intention to already accept Malaysian timber as sustainable. The verdict was that the Dutch government had to postpone its decision until after the ongoing appeal procedure has been finalised.'

This appeal was lodged by Malaysia against the decision of TPAC that Malaysian timber is at present not to be regarded as sustainable.

Members of the Dutch Timber Procurement Assessment Committee (TPAC)

Members of the Dutch Timber Procurement Assessment Committee (TPAC)

The whole process is complicated, with three interacting layers:

  1. the formal (negative) assessment by TPAC, now in the stage of objection and appeal;
  2. the political process, in which the Dutch government intends to accept Malaysian timber under strict conditions aiming at improvement of the Malaysian forestry system, together with discussions in parliament about this; and
  3. the juridical layer with the recent verdict which put a halt on the Ministry making a decision at the present time. In fact, TPAC also sees the positive aspects of an approval of Malaysian timber by the Dutch Ministry, if it could impose very strict requirements on a number of improvements of Malaysian sustainable forestry management.

A finalisation of this quite important case is to be expected in autumn.

Helias A. Udo de Haes

Last Modified: 08-08-2012