Ban ends illegal teak, but not the debate
THE HAGUE _ In March, the Netherlands banned imports of illegally harvested teak and other wood types. Violators face fines of up to €79,000 or 2 years in prison. Illegal teak imports may have ended, the teak debate continues. Recently, the Dutch yachting magazine De Waterkampioen, usefully gave both sides of the debate equal space.
Danielle Van Ooijen, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace Netherlands: “Teak comes from plantations or Burmese forests where trees are felled illegally. It is not FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) and the reason why natural forests are fast disappearing. As long as there is demand for naturally aged teak, illegal harvesting will continue. There are now plantations providing good quality teak. Costs matter. FSC teak is a little pricier. There are teak alternatives … but yacht makers shun them for they are conservative. As are boaters. Luckily, legislation has been tightened.”
Willem Dorr, owner Dorr Jachtbetimmering, maker of yacht interiors and exteriors: “I have yet to see a good teak alternative. We have tried several. Different types of wood. Modified woods. Cork. You name it. It’s all inferior. Teak is classically beautiful. It dries fast, without stains, has perfect anti-skid qualities and good temperature and sound insulation. A well installed and maintained teak deck lasts for up to 40 years. FSC teak may sound good, it is garden furniture quality. Plantation teak is cut after 30 years. Teak is only ripe for harvesting after 70 years. I understand that in Burma tree planting and cutting is in balance. That implies there’ll not be a shortage”