A hotline in Romania fights illegal logging

Posted on 27 January 2015

Anyone can report timber trucks they find suspicious
Every two days, the 112 emergency hotline in Cluj-Napoca, Romania’s second largest city, rings and someone reports a shipment of timber they find suspicious, Romanian media writes. Using the timber truck’s license plate number, an operator checks if the shipment is legal and immediately notifies the police if necessary. The system can also identify the exact place where the logs were loaded.

The hotline has functioned since the autumn of 2014 and is an initiative of the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. It is also using the electronic wood tracking system SUMAL that WWF Romania developed.

About a quarter of the calls to the 112 number in October and November were about illegal timber (580 out of 2 150 calls). The fines for those failing to prove the origin of the wood they transport can reach €1,000. In addition, the goods are confiscated.

SUMAL has gone viral in media as well. Since December 2014, when WWF Romania started a campaign to promote the tool, over 10,000 have shared the news or commented online about their experiences with the problem.

“The hotline has proved to be an excellent way to implement the EU Timber Regulation that requires operators from member states to track wood sourcing and implement procedures to reduce illegal logging. Many EU countries still fail to prevent the entry of illegal timber and its products into EU markets,” said Costel Bucur, Head of Forests & Protected Areas at WWF’s Danube-Carpathian Programme.
In 2014, the EU Government Barometer on Illegal logging and Trade showed that only 11 EU countries have legislation that is robust enough to control the legality of timber. These states are Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and the UK.

All other 17 EU countries have either not adapted their national legislation to the EU Timber Regulation or have low sanctions and poor court systems that get in the way of implementing it.
timber truck
A timber truck’s license plate number is enough to check if the shipment is legal or not
© Rob Webster / WWF