Time for EU to act on illegal logging in Eastern Europe, says WWF
Example of a legal logging operation in Siberia, Russia.
Brussels, Belgium - Produced to coincide with today's Nordic Council of Ministers, a WWF report reveals the complexity of illegal logging in the Baltic states. WWF calls on EU Member States to acknowledge the problem of illegal logging in Accession and Candidate countries and to take effective measures through the European Commission Action Plan on Illegal Logging. The report, The features of illegal logging and related trade in the Baltic Sea Region
, is the first overview of information available on illegal logging in Accession countries.
"The report shows that there is a dangerous combination of lack of governance, illegal actors, and socio-economic problems," says Beatrix Richards, WWF's forest policy officer in Brussels. "The EU needs a clearer understanding of this, particularly in relation to the other Accession and Candidate countries."
"There is growing concern amongst NGOs, affected governments, and industry about illegal logging becoming a problem in the international timber trade as well as in the EU enlargement process," adds Ugis Rotbers, Director of WWF-Latvia.
The European Commission's Action Plan on Illegal Logging currently ignores illegal harvesting and trade in Accession and Candidate countries, despite repeated calls by NGOs to take urgent measures. According to WWF, urgent EU measures needed for the Baltic states include:
• support for forest governance and law enforcement
• sustainable forestry and national action plans
• the implementation of voluntary licensing schemes as proposed in the Action plan
• a partnership agreement between Russia and the EU to combat illegal logging.
As a first step, the EU needs to stop being in denial about the problem in Eastern Europe. With the Enlargement process the EU now has a responsibility to effectively address this issue.
WWF also reminds member states that with the loosening of EU border controls, the flow of illegal timber to European markets is likely to rise. It can also be expected that an increasing amount of illegal timber from Russia will be entering the EU through the new Member States. Illegal logging rates in northwest Russia are estimated to be as high as 27 per cent.
The illegal logging and timber trade has become a worldwide problem and a multi-million dollar industry. It is a major constraint against achieving sustainable forest management and undermines social and economic development. WWF believes that illegal logging is part of a larger problem that includes issues of forest governance and corruption. It is best stopped using a combination of existing tools and the development of new policies, involving the full range of partners.
For further information:
Communications Officer, WWF European Forest
Tel: +43 1 48817 217 or +43 676 83 488 217 (mobile)
WWF European Forests Policy Officer
Tel: +32 2 740 0921 or +44 77 80958226 (mobile)