Grave human cost of teak wood

Published on November 19th, 2021

Teak has been the wood of choice for boatbuilders for decades, but is it still an ethical option? In Yachting World, Helen Fretter and Jessie Rogers examine the human and environmental costs of Myanmar teak and look at alternatives.

Teak is synonymous with boatbuilding. But the Environmental Investigation Agency recently issued a report on an 18-month investigation into the teak wood supply chain to the marine industry which raises ‘grave questions’, according to EIA Forests Campaigns Leader, Faith Doherty.

The focus of the EIA’s investigation, which was released in September 2021, was on Italian timber importers of Myanmar (previously known as Burmese) teak wood.

The problems with importing teak from Myanmar are both political and environmental. In February 2021 a violent military coup overthrew the elected government of the south-east Asian nation, putting the country in the control of its military commander-in-chief.

Many nations, including the UK, EU and USA, since imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Myanmar in response to human rights violations, including the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim population.

Timber is a key export of Burma, and the USA, EU and UK imposed sanctions on the import of teak from the country as it is not only a means of financial support for the military junta through its state-owned companies, but also a major environmental concern due to illegal and irresponsible logging. – Full report

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