About 20 Percent of EU Timber Illegal or Suspect

About 20 Percent of EU Timber Illegal or Suspect: Report

Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:46pm EDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Nearly a fifth of wood imported into the European Union has been harvested illegally or comes from suspect sources, mostly in Russia, Indonesia and China, according to a report by environmental group WWF.

In all, 40 percent of wood-based products from southeast Asia, 30 percent from Latin America and over 36 percent of those from Africa originated from illegal or suspect sources, said the report on 2006 imports.

Major importers were Finland, Britain, Germany and Italy, it added.

“Illegal logging destroys the protective function of forests, increasing risk of natural disasters such as floods and landslides, and leads to deforestation, one of the main causes for climate change,” said WWF forestry campaigner Anke Schulmeister.

The report said illegal timber hit local economies by pushing down timber prices, and called for tough EU action to clamp down on the trade.

The EU’s executive body will adopt proposals in September aimed at curbing the trade by demanding certificates proving timber imported into the EU is legally harvested.

The WWF report said the main trader was Russia with 10.4 million cubic meters of illegal or suspicious wood transferred to EU countries in 2006, almost half of it via processing plants in Finland.

(Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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