WWF to review ties to logging firms

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  September 2011:

WASHINGTON D.C.— World Wildlife Fund director general James P. Leape on August 23,  2011 announced that WWF would review its relationship with all participants in the Global Forest & Trade Network.

“WWF’s flagship scheme to promote sustainable timber–the Global Forest & Trade Network–is allowing companies to reap the benefits of association with WWF and its iconic panda brand,  while they destroy forests and trade in illegally sourced timber,”  charged the British organization Global Witness on July 25,  2011,  in an internationally syndicated report entitled Pandering to the Loggers. Global Witness cited for example the Malaysian logging firm Ta Ann Holdings Berhad.  Ta Ann,  alleged Global Witness,  is “destroying rainforest,  including orangutan habitat,  within WWF’s own Heart of Borneo project.”

Global Witness amplified earlier but less publicized complaints from the Austrian-based Bruno Manser Fund and the Australian Green Party.  “We are concerned about the allegations made by the Bruno Manser Fund and Australian Green Party leader Bob Brown,”  acknowledged Leape.  “In light of their claims,  we will commission an independent third party to review all WWF ties with about 300 companies,  communities,  and nonprofit organizations in more than 30 countries.  We have also taken up the issue with Ta Ann directly,”  said Leape.

Earlier,  Global Forest & Trade Network director George White tried to distance WWF from Ta Ann.
Ta Ann “is controlled by Ahmed Sepawi,  a cousin of Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.”  according to a joint statement from Bruno Manser Fund executive director Lukas Straumann and Brown of the Australian Greens.

Straumann and Brown said Ta Ann controls 362,000 hectares of logging concessions and 313,000 hectares of plantation concessions in Sarawak,  granted by the government without a public tender,  and is also “the major player in high conservation value forest destruction in  Tasmania.”

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