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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

New rules to combat illegal logging in the EU

European rules to combat the trade of illegal timber, by requiring operators importing or producing wood to identify its country of origin and legality, have come into force on March 4, but NGOs and think tanks doubt the readiness of EU countries to carry out the legislation.
The regulation also prohibits the sale of illegally harvested timber on the European market to cut profits from the trade worldwide, which analysts link to deforestation and desertification, rising CO2 emissions, corruption, armed conflict and the destruction of vulnerable communities.
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) was laid down by the European Parliament and the Council on 20 October 2010.
The law requires member states to lay down "effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties". However, despite two years of preparation, EU countries have so far failed to apply the legislation or impose credible penalties and sanctions, said analysis by the WWF-  “The introduction of the EUTR [EU Timber Regulation] was a landmark decision by the EU institutions, but it is meaningless unless it becomes a strong national law”, said WWF's EU forest policy advisor Anke Schulmeister.
In some member states illegal timber trading can result in criminal sanctions and in others it may only lead to a fine, the WWF said, adding that it doubted that all EU countries would apply the law with the same rigour.
The EU is also pursuing bilateral agreements to tackle illegal logging with six major timber-producing countries - Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia and Indonesia. These agreements include commitments to halt trade in illegal timber, notably with a license scheme to verify the legality of timber exported to the EU.


Source: Euractiv