Posts Tagged ‘merbau flooring’

The hallowed majesty of ‘Old Growth’

Saturday, March 26th, 2011
‘General Sherman’ ~ just another sequoia?  (pronounced ‘sequoya’)
Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Sierra Nevada, California, USA
^http://www.nps.gov/seki/historyculture/gfgst.htm

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The General Sherman Tree
– the world’s largest tree, is the prime visitor attraction in the Giant Forest.
[Source: ^http://www.nps.gov/seki/historyculture/gfgst.htm]
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Sequoia sempervirens’ common names include coast redwood, California redwood, and giant redwood. It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1200–1800 years or more. This species includes the (current) tallest trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.52 m) in height and up to 26 feet (7.9 m) diameter at breast height. Before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 2.1 million acres along much of coastal California (excluding southern California where rainfall is not abundant enough) and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon within the United States.”  [Source:  ^Wikipedia – read more].

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“The Sierra Nevada is still growing today. The mountains gain height during earthquakes on the east side of the range. But the mountains are being shortened by erosion almost as quickly as they grow. This erosion has deposited sediments thousands of feet thick on the floor of the San Joaquin Valley.”

[Source:  ^http://www.nps.gov/seki/historyculture/gfgst.htm]

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‘Giant tree’ at Neerim (Gippsland, Victoria, Australia), forty feet girth c.1889
AUSTRALASIAN ART, Photo by Nicholas CAIRE, b.1837 Guernsey, United Kingdom – Australia d.1918[Gelatin silver photograph image 15.0 h x 20.2 w cm, Purchased 1983, Accession No: NGA 83.3083]
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“The men shown here measuring the diameter of a giant eucalypt were not loggers or tree-lovers. They were attempting to determine whether Australian trees were bigger than the famed 400-foot giant redwoods of California. It was mostly national pride surrounding the Australian Centennial of European settlement which motivated scientists and photographers in the 1880s to seek out the remaining giant trees in the more remote areas of Victoria. The Americans claimed that their redwoods were the greatest because of their combined height and girth. In the dense Australian bush, it
was easier to measure the girth than the height and presented a much more dramatic image for a photograph.
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The general public followed the giant tree debate in the papers and also purchased photographs of them and other idyllic bush scenes. By the late 19th century, the Australian population mostly lived and worked in the cities. They became day-trippers and used the new railway networks to take their recreation in the bush. Nicholas Caire, one of the most active photographers to seek out and record the giant trees, travelled over a number of years on the new rail line to Neerim town reserve.
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Australia’s giant trees were widely depicted in colonial art as mighty symbols of the pre-settlement and pioneer era. Caire, whilst accepting the desirability of logging and urban development, was also one of those who argued for the preservation of examples for future generations.
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Most of the awesome giant trees were felled or burnt in his lifetime. Now they are preserved only in photographs.”

~Anne O’Hehir

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Indeed…

“The largest tree on Planet Earth is not the California Redwood, but the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans).  The largest trees ever recorded were located in southern Australia near present day Melbourne.  The world’s largest tree was the Ferguson Tree at over 500 feet (154m). It was measured by Surveyor Ferguson in 1872 in the Watts River Catchment near Healesville.”

Read More:   Click:  http://www.baddevelopers.green.net.au/Docs/talltrees.htm


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Source: Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010, Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002,  http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail-LRG.cfm?IRN=106546&View=LRG

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People and Horses on a Gigantic Redwood Log; about 1900.
“This photo is open for down loading for anyone wishing a free copy. Unknown Photo History. I’m fairly certain the tree was a Coast Redwood (Sequoia semperviren) or a Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) from Central to Northern California or Oregon. I wish this one was still standing. The bark has already been stripped off of it.”   [Source: Photo of old photo by David Foster, http://www.flickr.com/photos/21734563@N04/2225069096/]

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Editor’s Comment:

I empathise with David Foster. – ‘I wish this one was still standing‘.  Every face in this 1900 photo conveys cultural achievement and exploitative pride.

Now in 2011, has human attitude and on-ground impact toward ‘Old Growth’ really changed any?

Consider ‘Merbau’ timber, readily available from local timber yards across Australia and in New Zealand as ‘Kwila’ (Botanical names: Intsia bijuga and Intsia palembanica).  Comparable old-growth rainforest hardwoods include Narra, Yakal, and Ipil.  These old growth giants continually to be currently logged illegally deep in rain forests of the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Australian and New Zealand households profit from SE Asian rain forest destruction.

The lost natural assets of giant trees, of old growth have diminished the Earth, and have diminished the value of humanity, and of humanity’s value to the Earth.  To forest habitat we are but marauders and rapists.

Humanity has become ‘Earth’s Pathogen’.

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SE Asia old growth Rainforest Kwila is marketed in Australia and New Zealand as ‘Merbau’
for use mainly in flooring and decking,because of its relative hardness (high Janka rating) and long term stability.

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Rimbunan Hijau Group of Companies

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“Malaysia’s largest timber group is Rimbunan Hijau (“Forever Green”) (Forbes, 1995). It has timber concessions in Sarawak of around 800,000 hectares (FT,1994), dominates Papua New Guinea’s forestry sector and has forestry interests in New Zealand and China, as well as diversifying into other activities such as the ownership of newspapers in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea (AsiaMoney, 1995). Rimbunan Hijau also owns a 40% share in Limgang Trading Sdn., which has a 310,000 hectares concession in Sarawak (55% of Limbang is owned by Sarawak’s Minister for the Environment and Tourism, James Wong Kim Min) It is privately owned and controlled by one family, headed by Tiong Hiew King. The family are estimated to be worth about US$2.5 billion (Forbes, 1995).”

“Whilst it remains largely a private group of companies, whose operations are veiled in secrecy, the Tiong family has sought to obtain a more public face through the reverse take-over of Berjaya Textiles Bhd (now renamed Jaya Tiasa Holdings Bhd), giving it a listing on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (FT 1994). Its overseas logging operations appear to remain under the control of the private parts of the group and in Papua New Guinea it is the dominant player through control of a number of associate and subsidiary companies. There are recent rumours that Rimbunan Hijau group owns, or is in the process of acquiring, Primegroup Holdings, a British Virgin Islands registered company with logging interests in Guyana and Papua New Guinea. If this is true, then Rimbunan Hijau group’s international logging interests are, or will shortly become, even more extensive, both geographically and in terms of size. Apart from its logging activities, the company has interests in banking, newspapers and oil-palm plantations. One of Hiew King’s younger brothers is a member of the Malaysian Parliament. Despite the company’s political connections, it has been caught for tax evasion, the Asian Wall Street Journal reported.”

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[Source: Greenpeace, 1997, http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/97/forest/asian_companies_malaysia.html, accessed 20110325].

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Rimbunan Hijau is a Malaysian based global forest logger and controls around 60% of the forest industry in Papua New Guinea.  Rimbunan Hijau is Logging vast areas of virgin PNG forest against national opinion and local customs which infringes on the traditional rights of indigenous resource owners.

  • (It is) accused in PNG Government reports of gross human rights abuses, labor abuses, sexual abuses and illegal logging.
  • Causing destruction of ancient natural forest and associated systems.
  • Conducting broad scale industrial logging operations that infringe on the rights of local people to establish and exploit alternative economic opportunies.
  • Is influencing political and other processes to gain and maintain a near monopoly on PNGs forest resources and avoid adequate scrutiny and monitoring of its operations.
  • Rimbunan Hijau uses the media to promote its operations to the PNG public – Rimbunan Hijau already OWNS The National newspaper and LEGAL THREATS against their only competitor, the Post Courier, have left it wary of criticising Rimbunan Hijau. These have been the only two print media outlets since The Independent was closed down.”

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[Source:  http://www.forestnetwork.net/rhw/]

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Rimbunan Hijau  is ultimately 50% owned by the Boral “Group” of Australia and 50% by Caltex.

[Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/24211537/2258-Christchurch-New]

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…so when Australians and New Zealanders buy Merbau timber from local timber yards, hardward stores and furniture retailers – they are driving South East Asian old growth rainforest deforestation.

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(The following article from The Guardian in February 2011 is by forests officer for WWF Indonesia, Jimmy Bond, based in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo)

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Complacency over deforestation pushes orang-utan closer to extinction

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“Illegal logging and hunting continues despite legal protection, so the WWF is raising awareness to help save the orang-utan.

The destruction of the world’s rainforests continues at an alarming rate. Where I’m from in Borneo, illegal logging, coupled with hunting, is driving species such as the orang-utan ever closer towards extinction.

Borneo male orang-utan Wandoo.
There are fewer than 2,000 wild orangutans left in the West Kalimantan province, Indonesia.
©Photograph: Attila Balazs/epa/Corbis

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There are three subspecies of orangutan in Borneo and we only have about 2,000 orangutans left in the wild in West Kalimantan province, and through deforestation and hunting their numbers continue to fall. Just last month I heard from villagers that some people are still killing and eating them even though they’re supposed to be protected by law.

I’ve just been travelling around the region in this part of Indonesia as I’ve been running a series of summer schools as part of a WWF awareness campaign to highlight the problems facing the orang-utan.


Over the past two years, the main focus for the campaign has been children because we’ve found it very difficult to change the minds and attitudes of older generations. We invite the kids to come along to these camps from nearby villages and at the last one more than 200 kids turned up. We do many different activities from drawing to tug-of-war competitions but the over-arching aim is to touch their hearts with stories about this wonderful creature and the rainforests in which they live. We want to leave them with the understanding that these unique creatures need protecting.

We’re also starting to join forces with local government officials and religious leaders to spread the message to communities that live in traditional longhouses. We tell them about a recent success story that acts as a warning against killing orang-utans. One trader in Pontianak, where I’m based, was recently jailed for two years for trading orang-utans.

Such discussion also helps us talk about their habitats and the need to protect them too. In West Kalimantan from 1995, large-scale illegal logging cut through a forest corridor that linked two national parks where one of three subspecies of orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) lives. This meant they couldn’t migrate between the two areas and their numbers dropped significantly. This was made worse because the illegal loggers who came here to work also hunted meat from the forests and the orang-utans were in the firing line.

Over the past few years we’ve been trying to highlight these problems to the international media because some of the illegally logged timber was transported over the border to Malaysia where it is made into wood products that are shipped all over the world. Globally, we want people to become educated about where the timber that makes their furniture comes from and the harm it is doing to species and communities. When the forest disappears people no longer have access to food and medicines plus we have also seen more flooding as a result of deforestation. The international media focus also helps push our government to react because not so long ago they were doing nothing to help.

Recently, we’ve seen companies get permits from the government to develop palm oil plantations. But what’s worse is that the permits are just a smokescreen for the companies to get at the timber and leave without planting any palm oil.

So we’re working to make indigenous communities aware of this practice and the best way to do this is by bringing in others who have seen this happen on their land to warn them. If they are forewarned then they know not to allow it to happen to their own communities. These people need to have the forest in good condition because it’s not only home to different species, it’s also where they earn their livelihood.

Looking to the future, my big ambition is to set up an orang-utan rehabilitation centre here in West Kalimantan for subspecies Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus. At the moment, orphaned babies are taken to other parts of the country where they are kept with the two other subspecies. I want them to be able to breed with their own kind otherwise they could die out. And I fear that if the orangutan disappears, the rainforest won’t last much longer either.”

[Source: The Guardian newspaper (UK) , http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/feb/03/indonesia-deforestation-orangutan-extinction, accessed Feb 2011]

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Further Reading

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http://www.nps.gov/seki/historyculture/gfgst.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intsia_bijuga

http://www.indonesianrainforest.org/irf-news/373-campaign-against-kwila-imports-continues-.html

http://rainforest-action.blogspot.com/2010/09/end-sales-of-kwila-timber-products.html

http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/en/press/illegal-kwila-timber-imports-f/

http://www.info-ri.com/indonesia/rainforest-action-end-sales-of-kwila-timber-products/

http://www.robcousens.com.au/files/D512143129.pdf

http://www.dansson.com/kwila.htm

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/planet-2/report/2008/7/merbau-report-2.pdf

Greenpeace, 1997, http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/97/forest/asian_companies_malaysia.html

http://www.coolearth.org/306/whats-new-32/news-155/illegal-logging-threatening-malaysian-wildlife-453.html

http://www.wwf.org.my/media_and_information/wwf_position_statements/?5741

http://www.ewp.asn.au/certification/certificationcoc.html

http://www.forestnetwork.net/rhw/

http://www.atif.asn.au/

http://www.scribd.com/doc/24211537/2258-Christchurch-New

http://www.baddevelopers.green.net.au/Docs/talltrees.htm

The Guardian newspaper (UK) , http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/feb/03/indonesia-deforestation-orangutan-extinction

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