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EU introduces illegal timber import controls

Interpol estimates that around 30% of all the lumber in the global market is illegally sourced. This is caused in part by weak enforcement of laws, corruption of officials, economies lacking in other means of employment and high demand for lumber.




Effective March 3rd, 2013, the European Union requires that all wood products being sold in the EU, comprising 35% of the worlds lumber consumption, must be certified to not be illegally sourced. According to their own website, the EU Timber Legislation defines “illegal logging” as

“the harvesting of wood in a way that breaches the laws or regulations of the country of harvest”

It also requires the seller of the wood in the EU to conduct due diligence in order to verify the legality of their lumber, which at least requires them to show on paper the country of origin, the species, the amount harvested, where it was harvested, address and name of supplier and pertinent governmental documents validating the legality of the timber. Furthermore, the EU now requires risk assessment where the seller of the wood must ensure the legality of the wood with a careful subjective analysis of the possible external risk factors that could be hidden inside the wood that is exported. So, if your wood is sourced from Nigeria or another country characterized with a low-level of governance, then this is another ‘point’ added to the final assessment of risk. Then, if there is a significant level of risk, the wood may not be exported into the EU.

Taken in it’s best light, this legislation may be helpful to stop the flow of illegal logging into the EU because the seller of the wood must be able to verify the sourcing of the wood. This creates an extra layer of bureaucracy that makes selling to the EU a little harder for illegal loggers and makes a ‘fast-track’ entry into the EU for foresters practicing sustainable and legal methods of harvesting.

The bad things for the sustainable foresters is that they will probably see a rise in the number of timber thefts as thieves will begin stealing their stamped or bar-coded timber because this certified wood can be sold to the EU and fetch the much higher profits than if they sold it to a different market that doesn’t have these laws in effect. A simple solution to these thefts will be increased usage of tracking devices, which is why ENAiKOON has developed the locate-18. This device is fitted into the end of a cord of harvested lumber and immediately detects and notifies when the theft of lumber occurs. This has been tested in the forests of Germany and was able to stop the theft of lumber and trace the whole theft process from wood pile to lumber mill.

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