Last year we finally saw the introduction of strict EU regulations (the EUTR) on the import and consumption of illegally harvested timber. With illegal logging constituting around 30% of the global market, and the EU accounting for around 35% of timber consumption, this has to lead to a massive increase in timber production within the European Union, as it’s the simplest way of combating illegal logging and safeguarding your company from breaking regulation.
The EU Timber Regulation, in conjunction with the EU Voluntary Partnership Agreements, two parts of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), passed the bill through European court, which sees the responsibility for ethical timber consumption passed down to those companies and individuals who import the products into the EU.
In order to comply with these new regulations, all companies that deal with either raw timber or finished products must have access to the supply chain of the timber. These documents must contain information on the tree species, the origin of the wood and the compliance of the wood’s logging within the nation of origin’s national laws and regulations. As set out in the regulations, those importing the timber must exercise ‘due diligence’ or otherwise face legal action against them.
Whilst this may seem like a massive headache, the FELGT have made it a lot simpler for consumers to verify the veracity of the products they are buying with their own FLEGT licensed timber, which has been verified as legal down the production chain. Other certified timbers, such as that certified by the Forestry Commission, whilst almost certain to be of legal in origin, still require ‘due diligence’ on the part of the buyer.
Of course, the easiest way to get around this is to actually buy timber produced in the EU, which simply must fall under the EUTR. And it would be ridiculous to overlook the sheer quality and amount of timber that is produced by the EU nations.
I mean, here’s a staggering fact for you: forestry and other woodland areas constitutes around 41% of the EU member states’ land area. That’s approximately the same area of land as is occupied by the agricultural sector – a whopping 179 million hectares. Although the recession in 2008 put a damper on the industry, there has been a resurgence in timber production since 2012, with Sweden leading the charge producing 68.9 million m³ of Roundwood alone. This was closely followed by France, Finland, and Germany which individually produced over 50 million m³ of timber. The UK falls way behind with only 10 million m³ produced, which is still significant when you consider the size of the country.
I for one am very pleased with the introduction of these regulations. I can’t bear to see the planet’s rich forestry being carved up for pennies.
Image by: David, Bergin, Emmett, and Elliot