Western European governments not taking illegal logging seriously | WWF

Western European governments not taking illegal logging seriously

Posted on 06 April 2004
Brussels, Belgium – A new WWF online report launched today shows that European governments are not effectively combating illegal logging.

The report rates 12 countries on 9 different steps needed to tackle this problem, and finds that none of them has achieved a satisfactory performance overall. 
According to the new WWF online Government Barometer, the UK comes out best – rated moderate to good – and is clearly ahead of Denmark, Germany and Sweden, which are credited with an overall moderate performance.

Austria, Finland, France, Greece, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Portugal are rated poorly.

The survey shows that most governments support efforts at the European Union (EU) level to outlaw imports of illegal wood, tackle illegal logging in accession and candidate countries, and follow through with a proposed voluntary mechanism to keep illegal timber out of the EU. However, they are failing to implement strong measures in their domestic markets. 
For example, while EU governments purchase about 20 per cent of all wood products sold in the EU for public works, only six countries (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, and the UK) have committed to buying wood from legal and sustainable sources. Of these, only the UK is monitoring implementation of its public procurement policy. 
The UK is also the only country to have a partnership with a wood-producing country (Indonesia) to combat illegal logging and related trade. 

According to WWF, similar initiatives launched by other EU countries don't include clear targets to actively reduce the import of illegal wood to the participating EU country and cannot be seen as real partnerships.  
"The trade in illegal timber around the world is a multibillion dollar business, and EU countries, through their buying power, have a key responsibility in reducing it," said Duncan Pollard, Head of WWF's European Forest Programme. "These countries must speed up their efforts to tackle an illegal activity that destroys nature, impoverishes local communities, and distorts markets. There is no excuse for inaction: commitment is good, but action is better." 
Half of the timber imported into the EU comes from Russia and Eastern Europe – and a significant portion of this is likely to be illegal.

Previous WWF reports have shown for example that up to 50 per cent of all logging activities in the Russian Far East and in Estonia, and up to 20 per cent in Latvia and 27 per cent in Northwest Russia, are illegal.

Although available information for most accession and candidate countries is fragmented, WWF believes illegal logging is a major issue in these countries. The conservation organization also expects more illegal timber from Russia to enter the EU via accession countries after EU enlargement. 
With its new online Government Barometer, WWF will continue to monitor government commitments, attitudes, and actions on illegal logging over the coming months. 
"Governments often make it sound as if they are doing all they can to curb illegal logging and trade, but the reality is different," said Jacob Andersen, WWF Forest Officer. "Our new online barometer will make it easy for everybody to see who is taking real action and who is simply hiding behind words." 
For further information:

Helma Brandlmaier,
WWF's European Forest Programme,
tel.: +43 676 83 488 217 (mobile)

Louis Bélanger,
WWF's European Policy Office,
tel.: +32 473 562 260 (mobile)

Claire Doole,
Head of Press Office, WWF International,
tel.: +41 22 364 9550 
The UK has obtained 12 points out the maximum of 18, followed by Denmark (9), Germany and Sweden (7), Austria, Finland, France, Greece, The Netherlands and Spain (6), Italy and Portugal (5). 
The 9 steps to combat illegal logging used to rate the 12 countries are:
1 Position on the development of a voluntary licensing scheme on timber  
2 Position on an EU legislation that would outlaw the import and marketing of illegal wood 
3 Position on an EU initiative that would stop illegal logging in EU accession and candidate countries
4 Level of collaboration across government departments on the FLEGT action plan  
5 Commitment to ensure public procurement of legal and sustainable wood products 
6 Implementation of commitments on public procurement of legal and sustainable wood products  
7 Participation in partnerships on combating illegal logging and related trade 
8 Effect of participation in partnerships on combating illegal logging and related trade 
9 Level of priority for projects in wood-producing developing countries to reduce illegal logging