Removing illegally logged timber from the markets improves operating conditions for responsible forest industry actors and promotes the sustainable use of forests.
The EU is directing these requirements towards preventing illegal logging, which is causing deforestation primarily in the tropics.
When regulations are tightened, it is important to ensure that products manufactured in the EU can still move freely from one country to another. Regulations should also accept existing reliable systems for monitoring the origins of wood.
“The forest industry supports measures that prohibit the use of illegally sourced wood. However, it is important to safeguard the functionality of the internal market as well as to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and overlapping supervision ", says Anders Portin, who is responsible for sustainable forestry and infrastructure at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
Finnish companies use the best systems for monitoring the origins of wood
The systems used by Finnish forest industry companies for tracking the origins of wood represent the best practices in the sector. The origins of wood are verified with the aid of certified quality and environment systems. Certifying requires that these tracking systems are controlled by an independent third party.
However, the measures proposed in the FLEGT Action Plan do not take into consideration the industry’s established and tested practices for ensuring the legal origins of wood. Additional requirements lead to extra costs, which weaken the competitiveness of wood products in comparison to alternative goods that are not subject to corresponding demands.
Border formalities at the external frontiers of the EU must be kept functional and national supervisory organisations should be allowed also in the future. Electronic customs clearance and sample-based monitoring, for example, have been identified as good methods of oversight.
European wood is a renewable, sustainably-produced raw material and its use within the EU should be increased. Stricter criteria are imposed on wood than on other raw materials and this could lead to it being substituted by non-renewable raw materials, which would have a negative impact on sustainable development.
Furthermore, the measures included in the EU proposal require companies to prove their innocence – this reversed burden of proof is contrary to European judicial custom.