MEPs vote to cut illegal timber out of the EU market (06/07/2010)
A ban on the sale of illegally-harvested timber, along with traceability measures and sanctions, has been given the green light by MEPs. The new law aims to reduce illegal deforestation and give consumers better assurances about the products they buy.
After Parliament overwhelmingly approved on Wednesday an agreement reached with Council, Satu Hassi (Greens/EFA, FI), who took over parliamentary responsibility for this legislation from former MEP Caroline Lucas, said:"EU legislation to ban the sale of illegally-sourced timber represents a major international breakthrough, from the forests around the world that are ravaged by illegal logging to the EU market where timber and wood products are sold. The tough rules agreed would not have been possible without the strong backing of the European Parliament"
Ban on illegally-sourced timber
The new legislation bans illegally-harvested timber or timber products from being placed on the EU market. This will prevent such wood from effectively being laundered once it reaches the EU. Currently, at least 20% of timber and timber products reaching the EU market is
estimated to come from illegal sources.
Sanctions and traceability
Member States will be responsible for applying sanctions to operators who break the rules. The legislation sets out guidelines for imposing fines: the environmental damage caused, the value of the timber and lost tax revenue can all be taken into consideration. EU countries
can also impose criminal-law penalties on unscrupulous dealers. To ensure traceability, each operator along the supply chain will need to declare from whom they bought timber and to whom they sold it.
Illegal deforestation has devastating effects. On a global level, deforestation as a whole is estimated to contribute 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Where it occurs, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and landslides are all potential problems. The plunder of this natural
resource also hits forest-dependent peoples and the economies of developing countries.
Council has already informally agreed with the terms of this draft legislation but will need to rubber stamp it before it can pass into law. The rules are expected to take effect in late 2012 to allow timber operators time to adapt.
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