EU legislative proposal on reducing illegal logging imposes much stricter criteria on timber than on other materials

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The forest industries of Europe and Finland support actions aimed at stopping the sale of illegally logged timber and have for years been acting voluntarily to ensure the legal origins of their timber supply. The new system should accordingly accept the existing, sophisticated systems that forest industry corporations have developed to monitor compliance to the law.
 
Implementation of the proposal must not involve unnecessary red tape that leads to additional costs nor should it be allowed to weaken the competitiveness of manufacturers operating within the EU. Measures aimed at preventing illegal logging must be implementable in a clearly defined and cost-effective way. The smooth functioning of border formalities at the external frontiers of the EU must also be ensured and controls organised on a sample-based method.
 
The final phases of the legislative proposal have been drafted hurriedly and the practical applicability of the system to be put in place has not been considered appropriately. This makes it important that the drafting of the implementation rules, which will complement the proposal, will focus on practical implementation and that sufficient expert counsel is sought during their preparation.
 
With its proposal, the EU is imposing on wood criteria that are stricter than those, which apply to other materials. The EU is thus eroding the competitiveness of wood products in comparison to goods, which are made out of materials that are free of corresponding demands. In some cases, this could hamper the drive towards sustainable development, even though the EU is supposed to encourage, not restrict, the use of of renewable materials such as timber. Wood is a renewable, recyclable and sustainably produced raw material.
 
The aim of the EU proposal is to reduce European imports of timber and wood products, whose legality cannot be verified. Wood raw material, which is sourced in Europe, and products that are manufactured out of it within the EU do not pose a risk with regards to illegal logging. The original intention of the proposal was to combat the illegal logging of tropical forests.
 
The European paper industry is concerned because the proposal does not apply to print products, even though they present a massive potential source of illegal fibres. Print products with a total value of some €3.2 billion are imported into Europe annually.

More information:
Anu Islander, senior advisor, forestry, tel.
358 9 132 6678