Make illegal logging a crime in the EU, says WWF | WWF

Make illegal logging a crime in the EU, says WWF

Posted on 16 September 2004
EU governments import illegal timber from all over the world
Brussels, Belgium - As part of work to stop a trade which not only threatens the world’s biodiversity, but also people’s livelihoods, WWF today launched a new evaluation of how 19 EU governments are tackling the problem of illegal logging. Today's report follows the first such evaluation made in April 2004.

The key findings of WWF's Government Barometer — a monitoring tool that systematically surveys EU governments on nine different steps needed to tackle  illegal logging —showed that while most countries are still failing to take effective action on illegal logging at a national level, 16 of 19 countries are ready to outlaw illegal logging Europe-wide. The WWF survey also found that 15 governments are ready to tackle illegal logging in the new EU member states and candidate countries. 

The overall results of the report show there is still a lack of strong measures domestically to tackle illegal logging and related trade. Only the UK obtained satisfactory results, followed by Germany, Denmark, France, Latvia, and Sweden, which rated from moderate to good. Since the last evaluation in April, significant improvements were made by Germany and slight improvements also by the UK, Denmark, and France.
Compared to the last evaluation, political support for criminalising illegal logging inside the EU has increased. WWF notes however that the European Commission, in spite of implementing several laudable measures under its action plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT), is currently ignoring this issue. WWF has repeatedly highlighted that without such additional legislation, the recently announced FLEGT measures would not have the desired effect of controlling the trade in illegal timber.
“Illegal logging needs to become prosecutable as a criminal offence, full stop. The results of this study send a clear message to the European Commission to stop dragging its feet on outlawing the import of illegal timber into the EU,” says Beatrix Richards, WWF forest policy officer.
Another important result of the survey is clear support for an EU-level initiative to tackle illegal logging in the new EU members states and candidate countries. Support for such an initiative now also comes from new member states such as Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, and Slovakia.
“WWF has repeatedly emphasised that illegal logging is an issue on Europe's own doorstep requiring joint efforts by all EU governments”, said Duncan Pollard, Head of the WWF European Forest Programme. “The countries joining the EU harbour some of the most important biodiversity in Europe. Protecting their natural treasures from threats such as illegal logging is key.”
WWF urges the European Commission: 
• to outlaw illegal logging, and 
• to start an EU-wide initiative to help address illegal logging in the new member states and candidate countries.
WWF calls on all EU member states to take effective steps against illegal logging in their own countries and abroad: 
• through public procurement of legal and sustainable wood products 
• entering into partnership and voluntary licensing agreements 
•  through effective reform and enforcement of national forest legislation. 
The multibillion-dollar business of illegal logging and related trade is one of the biggest threats to the world's terrestrial biodiversity and occurs in more than 70 countries worldwide. In order to monitor how the EU-level political debate on illegal logging leads to concrete national level action, WWF has created a monitoring tool in April 2004, which systematically surveys EU governments on 9 different steps needed to tackle this problem. For the first time also the new EU member states were included in the study. WWF welcomes the active participation of many new EU member states in the survey. 

Information included in this survey was made available by the governments of Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK, and Poland, and evaluated by WWF. 

For further information: 
Helma Brandlmaier
Communications Officer, WWF European Forest Programme
Tel.: +43 676 84 2728 219 (mobile)
Louis Bélanger
Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office
Tel.: +32 473 562 260 (mobile) 

EU governments import illegal timber from all over the world
Legal clear cuts in Romania? copyright: WWF DCP