Environment

Brussels: Environmentalists criticise proposed timber law

19 Gennaio Gen 2009 1507 19 gennaio 2009

The EC’s proposal to regulate timber and timber products is deemed insufficient by both the Parliament rapporteur and environmental groups as it only aims at “minimising the risk” that illegally harvested timber and timber products make it into Euro

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The EC’s proposal to regulate timber and timber products is deemed insufficient by both the Parliament rapporteur and environmental groups as it only aims at “minimising the risk” that illegally harvested timber and timber products make it into Euro

The EC’s proposal to regulate timber and timber products is deemed insufficient by both the Parliament rapporteur and environmental groups as it only aims at “minimising the risk” that illegally harvested timber and timber products make it into European markets.

According to Greenpeace, illegal logging is the main culprit behind deforestation and deforestation is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As the EU is a major consumer of wood and is the principal export market for timber from Russia, the Amazon Basin and Africa a law is needed that will effectively ban all illegal timber from entering into the European market, says the NGO.

“Destructive logging practices are fuelling social conflict within forest-dependent communities, often leading to violence, crime and human rights abuses in affected areas. Illegal logging is financially linked to organised crime and money laundering, and it can fuel civil wars”, explains Greenpeace in a press release ahead of the debate that will be held on Wednesday 21 January at the European Parliament to debate the draft legislative report on on the Commission’s proposal to regulate timber and timber products.

The proposed regulation requires operators to apply measures to minimise the risk that illegally harvested timber and timber products make it on the European market. This ‘due diligence’ system is supposed to provide direct access to documentation proving the legality of the products, enable operators to track timber and timber products and manage the risk of being supplied with illegally sourced timber.

The Parliament rapporteur, however, has already strongly criticised the Commission’s proposed regulation because it does not actually prohibit the import and sale of illegally logged timber, but only aims to reduce risks. According to Greenpeace the new timber regulation should reassure EU consumers that they are buying legally sourced wood products with minimal environmental and social impacts. It should also help remove market distortions caused by the illegal timber trade, ensure fair competition in the EU market and benefit companies that invest in sustainable practices. The NGO has drawn up 5 proposals to improve the EU timber law it hopes will be added to the draft ahead of European Parliament elections in June 2009. These are:

  • To establish a strong legality standard for wood products that encourages the protection of the climate, biodiversity and forest-dependent communities;
  • To make selling illegally sourced timber products an offence under EU law. Set strong penalties and provide national enforcement agencies with powers to detect and investigate crime;
  • To require all operators (traders, retailers, commercial entities, etc) to provide documentation proving the legality of their products, and establish rules for a reliable traceability system, and for a public information system to help operators identify high-risk products and suppliers;
  • To centralise the accreditation of monitoring organisations at the EU level;
  • To remove exemptions for wood used in bioenergy production.


“EU member states must strengthen the Commission proposal if they want to ban illegal timber from the EU market,” said Sébastien Risso, Greenpeace EU forest policy director.

“A weak legislation will only favour companies that break the law. It wil drive responsible companies that source sustainable wood out of business. This law must reduce deforestation and the cost of climate change, preserve ecosystems and protect forest-dependent communities,” said Risso. The Parliament rapporteur is Caroline Lucas, UK Green MEP.

Find out more: www.greenpeace.org