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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Malaysia bans Indonesian log imports
Illegal logging in Kalimantan
Illegal logging is destroying Indonesia's forests
The Malaysian Government is reported to have imposed an indefinite ban on log imports from Indonesia.

The Malaysian state run news agency, Bernama, quoted Primary Industries Minister Lim Keng Yaik as saying that the move was aimed at combating allegations that the country was buying illegally-felled timber.

A BBC investigation last month revealed that Malaysia was ignoring a ban imposed by Indonesia on log exports and disguising the timber's origin by making products which are labelled of Malaysian origin.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) cautiously welcomed Malaysia's announcement on Tuesday, saying it was a big step forward for Indonesia's ravaged rainforests.

Valuable market

"Malaysia has recently been responsible for laundering millions of dollars of illegally logged Indonesian timber on to international markets," Sam Lawson, forest campaigner for the EIA told BBC News Online.

"We are glad to see Malaysia finally responding to the demands of its neighbour for help in tackling the trade in illegal Indonesian logs.

"We now look forward to see if this new policy will be enforced."

Mr Lawson said Malaysia was worried that demand would diminish for its $1bn furniture export market if customers believed the products to be tainted.

Indonesia has lost about 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres) of its forests to illegal logging over the past five years, according to the country's Forestry Minister, Muhammad Prakosa.

See also:

11 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
22 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
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