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'Austrian company exposed offering bonuses for illegal Romanian timber'
BUCHAREST—The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has released a new video exposing the leadership of the largest forest products company in Romania, the Austrian-based Holzindustrie Schweighofer, willingly and knowingly accepting illegally harvested timber and incentivizing additional cutting through a bonus system.
This evidence comes as Schweighofer has been identified in Romanian media as playing a central role in efforts to stop a new forest law from being approved by the Romanian Government. The forest law is currently under debate in the Romanian parliament.
In the video, undercover EIA investigators posed as foreign investors who had acquired the rights to cut a specified amount of timber on land owned by communities in Romania. Speaking to Romanian and Austrian Schweighofer officials, the investigators stated multiple times they intended to cut more than was permitted under contract and they needed assurances from Schweighofer that the company would accept the wood. On all occasions, Schweighofer officials confirmed they would buy the wood and further offered a bonus for any additional wood delivered.
On March 23, 2015, the President of Romania sent the proposed forest law back to the parliament for amendment and debate. Soon after, Romanian media released a leaked letter from the CEO of Schweighofer to the Romanian Prime Minister demanding the proposed law be amended, threatening consequences to trade relations between Austria and Romania if not.
Another leaked letter from the Austrian Embassy in Bucharest demanded the Romanian government meet with Schweighofer to reach an agreement on the proposed forest law. One provision of particular concern limits any one company from utilizing more than 30 percent of a given species of wood in Romania.
“Romania is in the middle of a critical effort to combat the illegal exploitation of its amazing, unique forests,” said Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director of the EIA U.S. office. “This fight against illegal logging in Romania cannot be won if powerful companies like Schweighofer knowingly buy, and offer bonuses for, illegal wood.”
Read today's press release in full at eia-global.org/news-media/austrian-company-exposed
#Romania #Austria #forests #timber ... See MoreSee Less
1 hour ago ·
Thailand: Customs makes new seizure of three tonnes of ivory from Kenya
More than three tonnes of elephant ivory has been found at a Thai port stashed in a container shipped from Kenya, custom officials said on Monday.
It is the second huge haul of tusks from Africa in less than a week.
The discovery, which would be worth millions of dollars on the black market, was destined for Laos where the illegal ivory trade flourishes.
Some 511 pieces of ivory were found on April 25 in a container "marked as tea leaves transported from Mombasa, Kenya, and on to Laos", Thailand customs said in a statement.
Scores of whole tusks - some nearly two metres long - were among the pieces seized.
A record four tonnes of African elephant ivory was seized at Bangkok's main port on April 20, in a container that arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was also destined for Laos.
Once in neighbouring Laos, authorities believe the ivory would likely be sold to buyers from China, Vietnam or back into Thailand.
Full story at www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-27/thailand-customs-make-new-three-tonne-ivory-seizure/6425846
#Thailand #Kenya #Africa #elephants #ivory
Image: Thai customs officers inspect confiscated elephant tusks during a press conference at the Customs Bureau in Bangkok (c) AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul ... See MoreSee Less
4 hours ago ·
Thailand temple can keep tigers, but not for making money, say officials
Thailand's "Tiger Temple" in Kanchanaburi province is off the tourist map, at least for now.
Officials have descended on the temple to count and register its 146 tigers and investigate the apparent disappearance of three tigers.
Backing off from an earlier notice that it would remove the tigers, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has agreed to let the temple keep them, but said it should not run the place as a business.
Over the past two days, DNP officials counted the tigers, which were led out of cages, tied to trees and scanned for microchips that are required to be implanted in them.
Full story & background at www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/asia-report/thailand/story/thailand-temple-can-keep-tigers-not...
Image: Tourists at the Tiger Temple in 2014, by Gezginrocker ... See MoreSee Less
4 hours ago ·