Currently it is not against the law to sell timber in the EU that was chopped down illegally in its country of origin. However, the Council of the EU has signalled its approval for legislation that will close this loophole by putting a ban on illegal timber entering the EU market.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:
“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.
“The UK has been supporting strong EU measures to rid illegal timber from our market and getting this agreement is a priority for the coalition. We have been building support with like-minded European countries, the timber trade and NGOs to agree strong measures.
“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. The Council of the EU backing this measure is a massive step forward.”
The “Due Diligence Regulation” would make it illegal for timber which was not logged in compliance with the law of its country of origin to enter the European market. Those placing timber on the market will be required to exercise due diligence to help achieve this aim.
The Council has passed its decision to the European Parliament, which is expected to vote on its agreement next month before a deal is finally agreed by Ministers.
Illegal logging fuels corruption in some of the world’s poorest countries and results in an estimated $10-15 billion lost revenue a year. It also undermines the ability of developing countries to promote timber as a sustainable resource.
Approximately two billion people worldwide are dependent on forests for some part of their livelihoods.
The UK imports approx 72% of its timber needs, accounting for 6% of the global timber trade (for construction, household products, paper and increasingly energy). WWF estimates that 7.2% of UK imports could be illegal.