European countries care less about illegal logging, WWF says
Gland, Switzerland - WWF, the global conservation organization, today launched an EU-wide ranking of 22 EU governments and Switzerland on their attitudes and actions against illegal logging. The 2006 ranking, which is comparable to two earlier government evaluations in 2004, shows that there has been little to no improvement.
WWF calls on national governments to stop paying lip-service on illegal logging issues and to better support responsibly acting companies and governments in- and outside the EU through their national policies.
None of the 23 surveyed countries achieved acceptable results. The best performing countries are the UK followed by the Netherlands, Denmark, Latvia and Belgium, achieving however just over 50% of total achievable scores. The only country with notable improvements was the Netherlands. In the case of the UK, the score has actually gone down when compared to their 2004 score.
The surveyed governments mainly achieved points on scores which measured their attitudes on EU activities against illegal logging and very few points were gained through national actions. “Although support for EU action is laudable and needed, it will not be enough to tackle the global problem of illegal and destructive logging”, said Beatrix Richards, Forest Policy Specialist at WWF.
“The EU is a major consumer of illegal timber from around the world, but the EU governments are failing to drive sufficient demand for legal and sustainable timber and wood products.”
The survey shows little to no activity on responsible public procurement by European governments.
Only France was able to prove a comprehensive policy aimed to ensure that wood products purchased by public institutions are legally and sustainably produced. 7 countries could point to some, albeit insufficient, public procurement policies: Austria, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Belgium. The countries that improved on this in the last 2 years were Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.
All other countries were unable to demonstrate to WWF any public procurement policies at all. “Alarmingly, none of the surveyed governments could prove effective implementation of their policies and guarantee that their tax payers’ money is not fuelling illegal logging” said Karin Wessman, Illegal logging co-ordinator at WWF International.
The evaluation shows further that only Austria has developed a national action programme to address issues around forest law enforcement, governance and timber trade.
The governments were surveyed also on their attitudes towards EU wide action. They signalled clear support for EU legislation to outlaw the import of illegal timber and wood products into the EU. Such legislation would underpin and support the current voluntary partnership agreements negotiated by the EU on behalf of their member states.
WWF has repeatedly emphasized that in the absence of such legislation, illegal timber can be imported from countries which are not part of voluntary partnership agreements.
Notes to editors:
The Government Barometer, (detailed government scorings from 2006 as well as the previous scorings from April and September 2004) are available at http://www.panda.org/barometer.
Scoring ranges 2006: 16 – 22 points: adequate; 9- 15 points: needs improvement; 0-8: inadequate
The governments scored as follows:
UK (13.4), the Netherlands (13.2), Denmark (11.6); Latvia (11); Belgium (11), Germany (10.8), Estonia (10), France (10), Sweden (9.4), Finland (9.4), Austria (8), Slovenia (7.8), Switzerland (7.6), Spain (7), Lithuania (6.8), Slovakia (6.8), Greece (6.2), Italy (6), Hungary (5.2), Portugal (5), Czech Republic (5), Poland (4), Ireland (2 – the government refused to participate).
The 11 questions used to rate the 23 countries were:
- Position on the development of a voluntary licensing scheme on timber, as proposed in the FLEGT action plan
- Position towards developing EU legislation outlawing the import and marketing of illegally-sourced timber or wood products
- Position towards developing an EU initiative to stop illegal logging in new EU member states and EU candidate countries
- The level of collaboration across government departments to ensure national implementation of the FLEGT action plan
- Commitment to ensuring public procurement of legal and sustainable wood products
- Ability to prove the implementation of a sound public procurement policy
- Active participation in partnerships on combating illegal logging and related trade
- Ability to prove that their participation in partnerships on combating illegal logging and related trade is having a positive effect
- Position about principles essential for negotiating voluntary partnership agreements
- The level of priority given to projects in wood-producing developing countries aiming to reduce illegal logging
- National action programme to address issues around forest law enforcement, governance and timber trade
The scores have been generated by a WWF representative based in the country in question and an international scoring team to ensure consistency across different countries. Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg have not been included in the scoring as WWF has no representation in these countries.
For further information:
Beatrix Richards, Forest Policy Specialist
Tel: +44 778 09 58 226 (mobile)
Karin Wessman, Illegal logging co-ordinator
WWF Global Forests Programme
Tel: +46708687328 (mobile)