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Guarding World Timber And Forests – EU Moves Closely Watched

  • February 16th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

rainfoest-umfmaineedu.jpgEnvironmental groups have been closely watching the progress of amendments to EU legislation on timber imports.

Those groups say a vote in the European Parliament this week (17.2.09) stands to regulate the EU timber market and to tackle the problem of illegal logging – but they think it won’t be enough.CRUCIAL TIME

Acting as a consortium, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the WWF have declared the parliamentary move, to enact proposals from the executive European Commisison,  to be “crucial”.

It would honour European Union claims to be anxious about the plundering of tropical rainforests, which has embroiled timber interests, conservationists and governments in bitter struggles from South America, to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

(See also, EUAustralia: “New exchange on illegal timber” – 25.4.07; “Boost to regulation of Indonesian forest products …” – 22.1.07; “Joke fine brings embarrassment over SE Asian forests” – 3.12.06).


The three environmental organisations say they have to “strongly criticise” the original draft of amending legislation going to the European Parliament, and urge MEPs to “significantly amend it”.

The statement in part:

“The Commission’s proposal will need a major boost if the EU is to achieve its goals of stopping illegal logging and its adverse impacts on climate change, biodiversity loss and the rights of indigenous people. As it stands, this law would not give EU consumers any guarantees that the wood products they buy have been legally sourced and do not contribute to deforestation and forest degradation.

“Amendments tabled by MEPs strengthen the Commission proposal in a number of areas, including by:

•    Requiring companies to provide assurance of the legality of timber products by means of traceability systems and risk management measures;
•    Establishing an independent mechanism to monitor the systems put in place by timber companies;
•    Setting dissuasive fines and sanctions for companies who break the law, and empowering national enforcement agencies to conduct controls and investigation;
•    Requiring companies to take measures to reduce the trade in conflict timber and to ensure compliance with indigenous peoples’ rights;
•    Proposing to work on high sustainability requirements for timber sourced from natural forests (as a next step, after this legislation enters into force).

“Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF call on MEPs to support these changes. Illegal logging, deforestation and forest degradation are accelerating climate change. As one of the world’s largest timber markets, the EU is responsible for a large chunk of this figure.”

A full, plenary vote in the European Parliament is provisionally scheduled for 23.4.09. The Agriculture Council is expected to adopt a common position before the end of the Czech EU Presidency in June.

The term “conflict timber” refers to timber that has been traded at some point by armed groups, rebel factions, soldiers or by a civilian administration involved in armed conflict to take advantage of conflict situations for personal gain.


Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF, Brussels,  “Environment groups: MEPs must improve EU timber law”,
(Media Release), 16.2.09

Pavan Sukhdev et al. (2008), The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. [Costing of Losses].