EU Moves Step Closer Towards Ban on Illegally Harvested Timber
June 22, 2010 - An EU-wide ban on the import and sale of illegally logged timber moved a step closer last week, when the Council of Member States signalled that it would support the proposed ban.
It has been reported that the European Union consumes half of the wood that is exported from the Amazon. In Brazil, it is believed that 80% of the forest development is illegal.
Currently, it is not against the law to sell timber in the EU that has been logged illegally in non-EU countries. As a result, timber felled illegally in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia can be smuggled into the global supply chain and traded within the EU.
The so-called "Due Diligence Regulation" would close this loophole, making it illegal for firms to import or sell timber that has been logged illegally in its country of origin. Under the new rules, companies selling timber would be required to demonstrate that they have exercised adequate due diligence to ensure that their timber has been felled legally.
Sebastien Risso, forest policy director for Greenpeace EU, appauded the proposed legislation.
"The world's largest market is about to shut its gates to companies pro?ting from illegal trafficking and forest destruction," Risso said.
The proposals are now expected to be voted on by the European Parliament with a view to having the legislation rubber-stamped by Member States this summer.
The proposed regulation was also welcomed by UK environment secretary Caroline Spelman, who said the UK was fully committed to adopting the new legislation.
"Illegal logging leads to deforestation which is a major contributor to climate change, harms wildlife and has an impact on the economies of developing countries and the livelihoods of local people," she said. “We need to make it an offence to bring illegal timber into the EU and cut off the markets through which it can be sold."