Thailand has banned harvesting from natural forests since 1989 and there are no natural forest concessions. This means that the main source of timber is either from national plantations or imports. Domestic plantation-grown raw materials primarily include rubberwood and to a lesser extent eucalyptus. Thailand’s highly complex and ever-changing tenure systems create continuing challenges related to the legality of some plantation species, particularly rubberwood and eucalyptus. As such, the main legality risks for timber sourced from Thailand surround the legal right to harvest, that are rooted in unclear land tenure, illegal land documents, and infringements of the laws in licensed plantations. Illegalities related to harvesting activities, such as harvesting without a permit, illegal logging of protected species and in protected areas, and illegal trade and transport (e.g. incorrect identification of species during transport) have been reported particularly for high value redwoods such as Siamese rosewood.
- Thailand’s forest area has remained relatively stable above 30 percent of the total land area since 2014. This reflects some localized high rates of natural forest loss in the north of the country accompanied by strong reforestation and plantation development policies.
- Thailand has banned harvesting from natural forests since 1989 which means that the main source of timber is from national plantations or imported wood. Domestic plantation-grown raw materials are primarily, rubberwood and teak and to a lesser extent eucalyptus.
- Thailand’s complex and evolving tenure systems create continuing challenges for verifying the legality of plantation grown species such as rubberwood and eucalyptus.
- Most non-plantation grown wood used in Thai-manufactured products is commonly understood to have been imported. Imported timber is sourced from both higher- and lower-risk source countries.
- Illegal logging of natural forest in protected areas continues to be reported, particularly for high-value redwood species.
- There remains a risk of unsustainable and illegal trade in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)-listed species.
Read more by downloading the Thailand Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.
Malaysia and Indonesia want to bring other Southeast Asian countries on their side amid ongoing disputes with the European Union over environmental and deforestation regulations that are set to take effect in late 2024, with the two nations worried about the regulations’ impact on the region’s agriculture exports. Both Southeast Asian states have independently initiated complaints against the EU to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Indonesia and Malaysia, which together account for around 85% of global palm oil production, argue that the EU Deforestation-Free Regulation is discriminatory and unfairly punishes small-scale farmers who will struggle to cope with the bureaucratic demands set by Brussels.
An unsanctioned logging operation, hidden deep within Thailand’s Bang Khanun protected forest, was inadvertently exposed during a routine inspection by officers from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
Panatchakorn Potibandit, director of the preventive and suppression strategy unit at the Forest Protection and Fire Control Office, revealed that a team of specialised rangers carried out the warehouse raid to arrest the timber thieves. Their search unveiled a cache of 30 Narra logs, with nine of them traced back to the forest reserve of Phu Soi Dao National Park in Uttaradit province. Alongside the Narra logs, officials also uncovered 50 pieces of Burmese rosewood timber, 51 Burmese rosewood logs, and 59 more Narra timbers.
It is believed that these valuable illicit wood resources, collectively worth 33 million baht, were the ill-gotten gains of a timber thieves gang. Their cunning strategy involved hoarding the wood in the warehouse before attempting to smuggle it to neighbouring countries.
Myanmar’s military junta has used foreigners including Thais as human shields in northeastern Shan State, where fighting the junta and an ethnic alliance is escalating, according to The Irrawaddy online.
Apart from Thais, other foreign nationals were those from Nepal, Ethiopia and Laos. “The army is using them as forced labor to build bunkers, dig trenches, and carry timber. They are practically human shields.”
European Union rules aimed at stopping deforestation threaten widespread disruption for Southeast Asia’s rubber sector, from Cambodia’s 30,000 small farmers to major exporters in Thailand and Malaysia.
The concern for Southeast Asia, critics say, is that these requirements will disproportionately hurt small farmers while failing to adequately address rubber’s role in deforestation.
The report by the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, published on Oct. 26, said that “critical gaps” in the U.S. anti-money laundering system are vulnerable to exploitation by criminal groups, including those behind the destruction of the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
FACT’s analysis focuses on forestry crimes and illegal mining in Peru and Colombia. The report also summarizes how U.S. importers sidestep the law by not trading directly with the blacklisted Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) but instead with non-sanctioned Myanmar exporters and middlemen based in Singapore, Thailand and other third countries.
The deforestation caused by the rubber farming in Thailand and the world has been significantly underestimated, according to new findings from two scientific studies, with Southeast Asian rubber production potentially contributing up to three times more forest depletion than previously thought.
With over 4 million hectares of forest lost for rubber production since 1993, an area the size of Switzerland, “the effects of rubber on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Southeast Asia could be extensive,” according to a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.
In Southeast Asia, mature rubber plantations covered 14.2 million hectares. Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam accounted for more than 70% of these plantations.
China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos were also important rubber-producing countries. Rubber plantations that were closed down before 2021 were excluded from the analysis, despite the fact that they may have contributed to deforestation.
The Royal Forest Department (RFD) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have formally launched eTree, a digital platform designed to support growers register the trees they are growing to sell as timber.
The eTree platform is intended specifically for people who are interested in growing trees for sale but are unable to register the land they intend to grow them on commercially as a “forest plantation” under the Forest Plantation Act.
While this article is a basic summary of recent reports on the trade of Myanmar teak and sanctions, it also lists a few countries where some FSC-certified or “ethical teak” can be found (Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Costa Rica, Brazil, Columbia)
Thailand, Laos and Myanmar are at the frontlines of illicit trade in Asia dominated by transnational organized crime syndicates.
The trafficking in illegal narcotics, precursor chemicals, timber and wildlife, people and illicit goods across Southeast Asia is being tackled thanks to the support of the specialized UN agency focusing on drugs and crime.
While Thailand no longer has extensive natural forests left, illegal logging still occurs. This media outlet reports recent enforcement efforts, including the police arrest of a forest ranger and four of his friends for illegal logging in Khon Kaen province in northeast Thailand. The gang cut down protected and valuable species such as Siamese rosewood and Burmese padauk.
Barclays has published new supply chain sustainability requirements for clients in forest-risk commodity sectors including beef and palm oil.
Barclay’s has added a new Forestry and Agricultural Commodities statement to its website this week. The statement stipulates that Barclays has “no appetite” to support companies directly involved in illegal forest clearance.
From the beginning of July, beef producers will not be able to undertake work in areas of the Amazon rainforest cleared or converted after 2008.
Those producing beef in South America will also need to prove that they gave deforestation-free supply chains by 2025. By the end of 2025, these firms will need to update their policy commitments on deforestation and human rights, and to monitor and report on deforestation-free product volumes.
An investigation has been ordered into the source of money paid into the bank accounts of a female official of the Forest Department, who is alleged to be connected with a large quantity of illegal Burma Padauk (Pterucarpus macrocarpus) lumber, found at a sawmill in Doi Saket district in Chiang Mai.
*** Of particular interest is the mention of the use of technology such as mini transmitters embedded in the Burma Padauk trees.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation is seeking police assistance to locate the mastermind behind an illegal timber case in the North. Yesterday, forest officials seized 401…
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