EU agree to ban trade in illegally harvested wood
23 June 2010
It is not currently illegal in the EU or the UK to trade illegally harvested timber, but this will now change.
The FLEGT Action Plan contains commitments to examine existing legislation in EU member states, to analyse whether it could allow action against imports of illegal timber and to explore options for additional legislation, should existing domestic legislation prove inadequate.
The UK government’s timber procurement policy forms a part of the UK’s initiatives to meet this commitment, but the UK government has also been pushing for clear guidance and further legislation from the EU.
Earlier this year, EU level legislation requiring companies placing timber and timber products on the EU market to adopt systems of 'due diligence' to ensure that they exclude illegal products, was taken forward after years of negotiation. In addition to the ‘due diligence’ requirement, the UK has been calling for a clear ban on placing (or making available) illegally harvested timber or timber products on the market. Earlier this month EU member states voted and agreed to make it illegal to trade illegally harvested timber - the so called ‘prohibition’. The Parliament’s plenary vote, scheduled for early July, will approve the legislation.
The agreement on the ‘prohibition’, and the requirement for operators placing timber on the market for the first time to apply a rigorous “due diligence” system, is good news for public buyers. It will make it easier to implement the policy and request evidence of compliance with the policy from suppliers and contractors.
The EU legislation is not designed to ensure sustainability of all timber on the UK and EU market. It is, however, expected to create strong incentives for suppliers and contractors to ensure that illegal timber is excluded and to increase sustainable timber in their purchases. The response from the timber trade is also very positive; Timber Trade Federation Head of Sustainability Rachel Butler, said: “This is fantastic news for the industry and offers a great platform to build upon the environmental credentials of wood”.
CPET will provide updates as further details on the ‘due diligence’ and ‘prohibition’ becomes available.