EIA at 40 – the billion dollar trade in merbau ravaging Indonesia’s last intact tropical forests

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, we are featuring films and stories from our archive, highlighting our work exposing environmental crime and abuse around the world. 

Today, we are proud to share a flashback to a film we made to accompany a major investigation conducted by our Forests team and partner organisation Telapak.

Released in 2005, The Last Frontier documented how the rampant smuggling of illegal timber from Indonesia to China was a billion dollar trade threatening the last remaining intact tropical forests in the Asia-Pacific region.

Asia had already lost 95 per cent of its frontier forests and most of what remained was confined to the Indonesian archipelago – and the province of Papua in Indonesia was home to the largest tract.

One timber species – merbau, a luxurious dark hardwood – was the main target of the illegal loggers in Papua and every month enough stolen merbau was being shipped out to produce flooring worth in excess of $600 million at Western retail prices.