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Rainforest Products: Legislators Trying Again …

  • May 26th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

rainfoest-umfmaineedu2.jpgAn arm-wrestle between the European Parliament and the Council made up of Agriculture Ministers, over control of products from rainforest logging, has gone into a second year.


Proposals from the Environment Committee of the Parliament, in February 2009 ended up with a decision b y the Ministers last December, described by the Greenpeace lobby as a “weak compromise”.

Greenpeace Europe says the parliamentarians are ready to go another round, trying to comprehensively block-off  the market for illegally harvested timber, from vulnerable sites around the world, including forests in Papua New Guinea and South-east asia.


The statement from its forest policy director, Sebastien Risso, following a vote by the parliamentary committee early this month (3.5.10):-

“The message from the Parliament today is loud and clear: there is no place for illegal wood in Europe. If EU governments are serious about cutting Europe’s destructive impact on forests, they must put a stop to impunity on illegal wood. The Council now has to amend its position and support the adoption of a strong law by the summer. Europeans need guarantees that they are not contributing to the illegal destruction of the world’s forests…

“The Parliament has restated its support for:
•         a formal prohibition of illegal wood on the EU market;
•         a system of sanctions penalising those companies that break the law;
•         a control system to minimise the risk of illegal wood ending up on the market, complemented by traceability requirements allowing buyers to pin down where wood comes from and whether it was legally harvested;
•         a robust definition of legally produced wood that takes into account forest management and conservation laws.

“In its first reading in April 2009 (during the previous legislature), the Parliament substantially strengthened the Commission’s proposal with the aim of establishing a system to ban illegal wood and ensure stricter controls on the market.


“In December 2009, EU agriculture ministers however ignored almost all of the Parliament’s proposals, instead backing a weak compromise full of loopholes favouring the logging and paper industry. The Parliament, the Commission and the Council will now start negotiations to agree on a final law in time for a plenary vote in the Parliament in early July.

“Europe is the world’s largest timber market with a significant impact on the world’s forests. According to the UN, the global share of illegal logging is estimated at 20-40% of total industrial wood production.

“If the EU fails to regulate timber markets, the forest footprint of Europeans will keep on growing, eating up the rainforests that need to be protected to save animal and plant species from extinction and to reduce the contribution of deforestation to climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions (about 20% of global emissions).”


Greenpeace Europe, Brussels, Forest Policy, 30.4.10., (26.5.10).

See also, EUAustralia Online: “One more step on rainforest laws”, 24.4.09; “European Parliament moves against rainforest crime”, 18.2.09.