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Jeff Bezos’s $500 Million yacht raises concerns about possible use of ‘Blood Timber’, reports EIA

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Questions arise overs Environmental credentials of the largest sailing vessel in the World.

In a new commentary, concerns have been raised regarding the sourcing of teak wood used in the construction of Jeff Bezos’s $500 million yacht, codenamed Y721. The yacht, commissioned by the founder of and renowned philanthropist, has been dubbed the largest sailing vessel in the world. However, questions have arisen about the origins of the teak used for its decking, particularly if it has ties to Myanmar, also known as Burma.


Myanmar teak has gained the moniker of ‘blood timber’ following the violent coup d’état that took place in February 2021, as well as the country’s alleged involvement in massive illegal deforestation, genocide, corruption, and support for a brutal military dictatorship. The country’s teak industry has been linked to illegal activities and human rights abuses, making it a highly controversial choice for a European yacht builder such as Oceanco, the company responsible for constructing Bezos’s yacht.

The European Union (EU) has taken a strict stance on the importation of teak from Myanmar, expressing concerns about illegal harvesting and the inability to guarantee the legality of the timber due to flaws in documenting the chain of custody. The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) requires importers to exercise due diligence in tracing timber from its origin to importation, which is challenging in the case of Myanmar. Thus, any timber imports from Myanmar are deemed to violate the law.

Oceanco, owned by Omani billionaire Mohammed Al Barwani, has declined to disclose the source of the teak used in the construction of Bezos’s yacht, despite repeated inquiries from Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an organization dedicated to uncovering environmental crimes. The yacht builder has asserted that all teak used on their projects complies with the EUTR and undergoes third-party verification, with Double Helix Tracking Technologies cited as the company responsible for verification.

Double Helix claims to use DNA analysis and genetic mapping to determine the precise origin of timber, but EU experts have expressed reservations about its ability to verify the legality of teak from Myanmar due to limitations in attributing the timber to specific forest harvesting or conflict areas.

The concerns surrounding the sourcing of teak for Bezos’s yacht raise questions about his commitment to environmental causes. Despite Bezos’s substantial contributions to combat climate change and protect nature through his Earth Fund, the potential use of ‘blood timber’ casts a shadow on his environmental credentials.

The issue of illegal logging and human rights abuses in Myanmar’s teak industry extends beyond the construction of Bezos’s yacht. The state-owned Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), which controls all aspects of teak production and export, has been accused of corruption and is implicated in the auctioning of teak to fund the military junta that came into power after the coup.

The rampant deforestation in Myanmar, which has resulted in the loss of vast areas of forest cover, adds urgency to the need for responsible sourcing and sustainable practices in the timber industry.

As of now, it is up to the competent Dutch authorities to investigate whether the teak used for the yacht’s decking is indeed from Myanmar and, if so, how it ended up in the Netherlands. The Environmental Investigation Agency and concerned individuals are calling on Bezos to use his influence and wealth to speak out against Myanmar’s military junta and illegal logging practices, aligning with his stated commitment to reversing the loss of nature and combating climate change.

Please note that this article is a commentary, and the views expressed belong to the author, Paul Woolwich, Head of Communications for the Environmental Investigation Agency, and not necessarily to Mongabay, the source of this commentary.

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