The EU and the problem of illegal logging
The EU is a main importer of timber and wood products such as furniture, but many of these products come from illegally logged forests. Approximately 23 per cent of the wood imports in the EU are estimated to come from “high risk countries”. In these countries (Russia, China and all tropical countries) between 20% - 90% of the timber production is illegal.
Illegal logging plays a major part in forest destruction and is putting at risk some of the most fragile ecosystems in the world, upon which depends the livelihood of local communities.
As one of the largest importers of illegally-sourced timber and related products, the EU adopted in May 2003 an Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). Its objective is to combat illegal logging by:
• improving governance in the forestry sector and put in place traceability systems in countries outside Europe to ensure that only timber licensed as “legal” will be exported to the EU;
• encouraging private industry initiatives to exclude illegal timber from their supply chains;
• promoting standards to exclude illegal timber from public procurement within the EU Member States;
• establishing safeguards for financial operations and investments.
Voluntary Partnership Agreements between the EU and partner countries from Asia and Africa are being negotiated to implement the action plan. But according to WWF, the EU needs to put in place more stringent legislation to outlaw trade of illegal timber and related products. Credible certification schemes to track wood products must be encouraged and the supply of legal timber must be promoted with public procurement.
As part of its advocacy work, WWF periodically undertakes an EU-wide study, the ‘Government barometer’ – assessing EU Governments’ performance in preventing trade in illegal timber.
As the EU plays an important role in international agreements such as the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Ministerial Conference for the Protection of Forests in Europe (MCPFE), WWF works to make sure that sustainable forestry management is effectively implemented.
In 2006 the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE) and the WWF European Policy Office signed a three-year cooperation agreement to shape EU forest policies and actions with a common goal of promoting sustainable and responsible management of forest resources.
The agreement will:
• contribute to WWF's Forests for Life programme and other related international and national activities regarding forest management and conservation
• enable ACE and its member companies to work with civil society on adopting and improving good forest governance and responsible management practices.