Significant part of Russian timber exported to Europe might be illegal, WWF warns | WWF
Significant part of Russian timber exported to Europe might be illegal, WWF warns

Posted on 03 April 2003

In a new report, WWF warns that about 75 per cent of the Russian wood exported to Europe comes from Northwestern Russia, where illegal logging is widespread.
Gland, Switzerland - In a new report, WWF warns that about 75 percent of the Russian wood exported to Europe comes from northwestern Russia, where illegal logging is widespread. The report, Illegal logging in Northwestern Russia, has calculated that up to 35 per cent of the timber harvested in northwestern Russia is illegally logged. Timber from this region accounts for close to three quarters of all Russian wood imported by Europe, with Sweden, Finland, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France being the main destination countries. According to the report, illegal logging is responsible for massive loss in biodiversity in an area where the majority of forests are still close to natural state, and threatens species such as lynx, bear, wolf, and capercaillie which are rare in Europe. According to the report, illegal logging in northwestern Russia is caused by both the low level of control of logging operations from the government and the lack of responsible practices from logging companies and wood traders, who do no not control the origin of wood. For their part, importers of Russian wood products have limited knowledge of their supply chain and cannot guarantee that products they buy come from legal and non-controversial sources. For these reasons, WWF is calling on leading European importers of wood from Russia to urge their suppliers to fulfil basic requirements for responsible and legal timber trade. "The Russian government must reform its forest policy and legislation, but European companies must also take action to halt illegal logging in Russian forests," said Andrei Ptichnikov, WWF-Russia's forest expert, and one of the authors of the report. "They must ensure that their suppliers can prove the legality of the traded wood, which will necessarily imply more transparency and the need for tracing systems." According to WWF, this is already possible. A range of companies are currently participating in the WWF coordinated Producer Group, the Association of Environmentally Responsible Timber Producers of Russia. The Producer Group is a part of the WWF global forest and trade network that offers services for members, both forest managers and primary processors, in order to develop responsible forestry practices. Members need to document their commitment to responsible forest management, through setting a defined timeframe for eliminating illegal logging, sourcing from non-controversial forests and achieving certification to a credible scheme, such as the Forest Stewards Council (FSC). Over 1 million hectares of forests in Russia are FSC certified and around 500,000 hectares are in the process of being FSC-certified in Northwestern Russia, Southern Siberia and Russian Far East. "Responsible forest management is the only way to prevent not only a considerable loss in biodiversity but also a huge loss of public revenues," added Duncan Pollard, Head of the WWF European Forest Programme. "The World Bank estimates that governments around the world lose US$5 billion annually in public revenue due to illegal logging. For Russia, WWF believes that the loss amounts to US$1 billion annually." For further information: Katya Pal, Press Office, WWF Russia Tel: +7 095 727 09 39 Helma Brandlmaier Communications Officer, European Forest Programme Tel: +43 1 488 17 217 Olivier van Bogaert Press Office, WWF International Tel: +41 22 364 9554
Timber exploitation, northwestern Russia.
© WWF Russia / A. Ptichnikov