Javanese teack : from illegal harvests to dramatic boycott
Teak was first planted centuries ago in Java and the industry reached its peak in the 19th century. Java's teak plantations, the most extensive in the world, cover some 200 000 hectares, but they are being overexploited and NGOs are questioning their management by the state. Teak has become integral to Javanese culture and the industry stretches far back in time. However, in just a few years after the Asian economic crisis, the industry saw an unprecedented boom in exports followed by a crash in world teak prices. The teak furniture industry has two sectors working in parallel. The small-scale sector, which is closely bound up with the huge domestic market, exercises considerable pressure on local prices and competes for access to teak resources with the industrial sector, which mainly supplies foreign markets. Considering the complexity of the problem, the solutions being put forward are simplistic. The European NGO campaign to boycott Indonesian teak, which is supposed to protect the resource, is producing sideeffects that are actually worsening the problem. Ethical commitments from the main producers, incentives for small local stakeholders and gradual improvements in the production system would appear to be a more reasonable course of action.
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