The timber trap

May 03 | 2024

The Mover has recently been alerted to an issue relating to the treatment of timber products from many African countries. Shipments from Ethiopia, seem to be a particular problem.

Driving a Land Rover loaded with wood to the borderThe information was supplied by Curt Clements, CEO of Move One. It’s an issue that is putting his company at a significant commercial disadvantage, could also be risking fines and high re-shipment costs for any agent, anywhere in the world, who receives these shipments in good faith; and has the potential to damage the environment.

All timber used in containers, for packing crates, cases, pallets or dunnage, must be chemically treated to ISPM 15 standards (The International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15) and carry a stamp of conformity commonly known as the ‘wheat stamp’.  ISPM 15 is a measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to prevent the international transport and spread of disease and insects that could harm plants or ecosystems.  It applies to all wood packaging material requiring that it be debarked, heat-treated, or fumigated with methyl bromide. 

The timber trapThe problem, according to Curt, is that in some African countries, and especially in Ethiopia, home to one of the largest diplomatic and expatriate populations in Africa, there are no government-approved, ISPM 15 certified fumigation companies. “There are many fumigation and pest control firms but from our investigations none of them have access to methyl bromide,” he explained.  It appears that they use other chemicals, which do not meet the ISPM 15 standard, so do not qualify for an internationally recognized certificate of compliance.

There is an obvious, and dangerous, workaround ...

Photos: Joe Myers of Move One in Kenya drives his Land Rover loaded with timber to the border. 

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