Campaign ramped up against Harvey Norman's alleged unsustainable native timber sourcing

Its television commercials are about as obnoxious as they come, but Harvey Norman is coming under attack for a different form of annoyance, this time by way of native forest destruction. Environmental group Markets for Change (MFC) released a report in July claiming the giant furniture and electronics retailer is selling products sourced from native forests in the Australian regions of Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. Although other companies (see below) were studied as part of the year-long investigation, MFC claim Harvey Norman’s named popped up the most in its investigations.

The report may have been released in July, but protests have been stepped up a notch in both Australia and New Zealand as part of a global day of action. In Sydney, four protesters were arrested over the weekend after they scaled the Sydney Opera House building and unveiled a 10x12 meter banner that read ‘No Harvey No! Stop selling Aussie forest destruction.’ In August a similar protest took place when protesters abseiled the roof of a shopping centre in Sydney to unveil the same sign.

Over the weekend in Auckland, protesters made their voices heard at the Mt Wellington Harvey Norman store.

According to the MFC's report, No Harvey no: How Australia’s largest furniture and electronics retailer is fuelling the destruction of our native forests, native woods including jarrah (Western Australia), yellow stringy bark (New South Wales), Tasmanian oak and wormy chestnut (Victoria), are getting wrapped up in a complex chain of custody that is threatening native bird species and koalas.

The report states:

The chain of custody described in this report begins in Australia’s native forests with the logging companies who, with permission from state government agencies such as Forestry Tasmania, VicForests, West Australia’s Forests Products Commission and Forests NSW, fell the trees and convert them to sawn timber. Much of the timber is then transported to places such as Melbourne or Tasmania’s Bell Bay,1 where they are shipped to the world’s largest cargo port, Shanghai, China. Trucks and trains then transport the sawn timber to Chinese furniture companies who manufacture products such as dining tables, chairs, beds and entertainment units. These consumer goods are loaded into containers before being shipped all the way back to Australia and, in many cases, even to the same states where the timber originated. These native forest wood products are then distributed by wholesalers to furniture retailers such as Harvey Norman.

The report goes on to criticize the lack of furniture labeling, making it difficult for customers to know where furniture materials have originated from.

Harvey Norman is yet to respond to the latest actions by protesters, but in July it did say it was being unfairly targeted and did its best to source sustainable timber.

Download the  report No Harvey no: How Australia’s largest furniture and electronics retailer is fuelling the destruction of our native forests, here.

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).