Commission statement on use of Tasmanian timber

November 11, 2011

Recent claims have suggested that timber products sourced from virgin old-growth Tasmanian hardwood forests are being used in the construction of the Team USA basketball training venue at the University of East London. The training venue is to be used by Team USA in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. While use of material sourced from this region does not contravene any law, the logging of Tasmanian old growth forests is widely opposed by environmental groups and is the subject of a forthcoming bilateral agreement between industry and government in Tasmania.

The Commission supports the application of the Sustainable Sourcing Code throughout the London 2012 programme and continues to be impressed with LOCOG’s commitment to using FSC certified timber wherever possible. However we are aware that Team venues including team ‘houses’ and training venues are beyond the remit of LOCOG and therefore not required to apply the Code. The Commission is also not able to assure the activities of National Teams for the same reason.

The Commission urges National Governing Bodies and National Teams to meet the sustainability aspiration and intent of the London 2012 Games when selecting and commissioning venues for their stay in the UK during and in the lead up to the 2012 Games. We encourage UEL in this case to clarify the source of timber used in the basketball facility and whether it has been certified under either the PEFC or the FSC scheme. We also encourage PEFC to investigate whether timber they have certified as sustainably sourced has in fact been sourced from virgin old-growth Tasmanian hardwood forests.

In our 2008 Annual Review we recommended that “All users of the London 2012 Brand should be required to demonstrate how they will contribute to the London 2012 Sustainability Plan and relevant objectives”. It is therefore important that teams and associated organisations are mindful of these high standards, particularly in sustainable procurement.

To view the related story, see: ‘Olympic athletes to train on timber from ‘endangered’ forests’, Independent, 08.11.2011