Global Witness accuses Danish timber company, Dalhoff Larsen and Horneman (DLH), of illegal timber purchases from Liberia worth $304,870 in 2012. These allegations follow others back in 2009, when DLH was accused of supporting a bloody civil war (2000-2003) by timber purchases from companies that were backing-up convicted war criminal Charles Taylor's regime.
Global Witness' investigations reveal that DLH has purchased 1,281 cbm of timber from two Liberian companies in 2012, which was cut under logging contracts called Private Use Permits (PUPs) and exported to Bangladesh, China and France. PUPs have now been ruled illegal by the Liberian government, whose 2012 investigation into their use reported widespread fraud and corruption by companies and Liberian officials. In 2011, the UN Panel of Experts also stated that timber from PUPs could be used to finance conflict, and threatened the country’s fragile sustainability and anti-corruption efforts.
The revelations put DLH in breach of its certification from industry body the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), whose flagship conference on corporate social responsibility was sponsoring in Copenhagen last week, says Global Witness. Under the scheme’s rules, companies may not be involved in illegal logging, human rights violations, or the destruction of valuable forests. Any further imports of illegal timber into Europe would also make the company liable to criminal sanctions under the EU’s new Timber Regulations, which came into force on 3 March 2013, and bans illegal timber imports, requiring companies importing timber into the region to carry out thorough checks to ensure that the timber was logged according to the producer country’s laws.
“DLH seems to have learned nothing from the past. It’s appalling that a company that helped finance vicious armed conflict ten years ago continues to do such damage to Liberia’s forests and people, especially whilst trading so heavily on its sustainability credentials in public,” said Alexandra Pardal of Global Witness. “In buying this illegal timber, DLH has helped steal valuable resources from one of the poorest countries in the world. Charles Taylor was a key beneficiary of DLH's dealings, and he’s just been brought to justice in the Hague - it’s about time DLH is also stopped and held to account for its actions.”