Illegal wood will be banned in the European Union under an agreement being put to a vote in the Parliament this week. The aim is to stop the destruction of forests by keeping irregular timber imports out of Europe, which is the world’s largest market for wood products. Companies in the EU have generally welcomed the move.
Armand Stockmans, with the European Timber Trade Federation, said: “Legislation is something we have been waiting already a long time for. Timber importers want regulation to avoid illegal timber on our markets, because it brings unfair competition.”
Last year environmental groups estimated that Europe buys 1.2 billion euros worth of illegally felled timber per year, about 20 percent of its imports.
Ecologists were disappointed that the new rules won’t take effect till late 2012.
Anke Schulmeister, a WWF Forest Policy Officer, said: “Another big problem is the fact that sanctions and penalties will not be set at EU level but it is up to the member states to decide how they want actually to look into penalties. We trust and hope that member states will take vigourous measures in cases where somebody is detected with illegal timber.”
Companies will have ensure that raw timber and timber products from sources such as Indonesia, the Brazilian Amazon, and Cameroon
are legally logged. The penalties could include fines and trading bans.