EU Timber Regulation to Combat Illegal Logging Comes into Force

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From a Just Forests press release, 1 March 2013

The EU Timber Regulation (EU NO 995/2010) cames into force on Sunday 3 March 2013. The Regulation makes it an offence to place illegal timber or timber products on the EU market, and places obligations on those who first place such products on the market, as well as those trading further down the supply chain.

The implementation of the Regulation will be enforced by national level competent authorities (CA) that will undertake checks and ensure the enforcement of the Regulation, with penalties for non-compliance.

In Ireland, the competent authority is International Forestry Policy at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Just Forests welcomes this Regulation and encourages the Irish Government to put the necessary structures in place to ensure the Regulation is enforced and implemented without delay.

“The enforcement of this new Regulation is urgently required and is coming not a moment to soon as Ireland is awash with Chinese plywood and tropical hardwood timber which is ofter the results of illegal logging and human rights abuses”, according to Roche.

The Regulation applies to timber and timber products which originate in the domestic (EU) market, as well as those which originate from third (non-EU) countries.

The Regulation imposes the following obligations on those who trade timber and timber related products:

1         ‘Operators’ who first place timber or timber products on the European market must implement a due diligence system which incorporates information gathering, risk assessment and risk mitigation activities, in order to minimise the possibility that products they place on the market contain illegally harvested timber.

2         ‘Traders’ who buy or sell timber or timber products which have already been placed on the market must maintain records of who supplied it to them, and, where applicable, to whom they have supplied the timber or timber products.

Ireland’s timber traders have had it good for decades. During the celtic tiger era they imported tropical timber and wood-based products with an estimated value of 1,992 million Euros. Assuming importers in Ireland do not actively seek to procure legal wood-based products, around 11% of this trade is thought to be illegal, translating to a per capita import value of approximately €27,” according to Tom Roche, coordinator of the Irish development education charity, Just Forests.

The World Bank estimates that illegal logging in some countries accounts for as much as 90 percent of all logging and generates approximately US$10–15 billion annually in criminal proceeds. In their ‘Justice for Forests’ study launched in 2012,  they state that, ‘Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers around the globe. Mostly controlled by organized crime, this money is untaxed and is used to pay corrupt government officials at all levels.

The report “Green Carbon, Black Trade” released by UNEP and INTERPOL on 27 September 2012 reveals that contrary to recent beliefs, the international illegal timber trade persists unabated at an annual value of 30 billion USD or more; the global timber scam has just taken on new forms as illegal logging syndicates employ increasingly sophisticated methods of log laundering and tax fraud. Illegal timber trade is so pervasive that it could offset the impact of the REDD scheme.

Just Forests coordinated the 2012 EU Barometer on illegal logging on behalf of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF UK) to determine how prepared Ireland was to meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation and the findings can be viewed here…

The EU Timber Regulation for DUMMIES Do You Deal in Wood?