Europe: Political hope for illegal timber ban


Good news emerged last week of a potential ban on the trade of illegal timber in the EU in 2012 after years of lobbying by environmental organisations and some quarters of the timber industry.

pile of timber waiting to be soldA ban on illegal timber may seem an oxymoron to some. By its very definition illegal timber should be banned anyway, right? But apparently not... And as usual the problem seems to be much less one of will, but rather one of practicalities and, of course, policing.

WWF write on their press release: "this long overdue law (backed by over 90 % of EU citizens polled by WWF and Friends of the Earth in 2009) should level the playing field for companies that trade in timber and wood products - and provide a supportive framework for those who want wood from legal sources, helping to reduce the negative effects of illegal logging and to save precious tropical forests."

On the BBC website Mark Kinver writes "up to 40% of the world's wood production is estimated to come from illegally logged tropical forests," an astounding figure, if true, given the growing documentation of the problems caused by rainforest deforestation. Europe is, naturally, a big consumer of timber resources and the news was greeted positively by campaigners around the world such as Greenpeace EU, whose Forest Policy Director Sebastien Risso said: "The world's largest market is about to shut its gates to companies profiting from illegal trafficking and forest destruction."

The ban does not cover printed products, which are exempt for another five years.

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