A four-year investigation by the US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) uncovered evidence of an illegal timber trade stretching from Chinese-owned Dejia Group in West Africa to major hardware stores located across the USA.
The timber was from the okoumé tree, classed vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with a range limited to just four African countries. US Federal officials are investigating the importers, Evergreen Hardwoods and Cornerstone Forest Products. The Dejia Group also exports to European countries where the EU Timber Regulation is in force, including France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Greece.
- United States
- Chinese-owned Dejia Group
- Cornerstone Forest Products
- Evergreen Hardwoods
- hardware stores
- illegal timber trade
- IUCN Red List
- okoumé tree
- The Dejia Group
- Timber Regulation
- US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
- US Federal officials
Hardwood Dimensions, a timber importer in the U.K., violated the EU Timber Regulation by not properly verifying the legality of a shipment of Cameroonian ayous in January 2017. A judge ordered Hardwood Dimensions to pay 4,000 pounds ($5,576) plus court costs in the case. The case calls into question the effectiveness of Forest Stewardship Council certification, which Hardwood Dimensions has held since 2000.
Following the evaluation of the effectiveness and functioning of the EUTR during its first two years of application, it was noted that the EUTR covers a significant number of timber products, but not all are included in its scope. The evaluation concluded that the European Commission may consider amending the product scope, subject to an impact assessment of options. The European Commission is therefore undertaking an impact assessment to analyse possible changes to the EUTR product scope. As part of this impact assessment process and in line with the European Commission's Better Regulation Guidelines, an extensive consultation of stakeholders is being carried out. The main aim of this public consultation is to gather views and evidence on possible changes to the EUTR product scope.
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) News have provided an update on the operation of the EU’s law to address illegal logging from March 2015 to March 2016. This issue outlines the support from the European Commission and the implementation of the regulations by its’ member states, indicating how they insure its’ proper application. Relevant publications and updates in international laws against illegal logging are also reported.
Auditors say EU scheme to tackle $100bn global trade in illegal timber is poorly designed, badly managed and largely ineffective. Four EU countries – Greece, Spain, Hungary and Romania – have still not implemented an EU timber regulation proposed five years ago, allowing an easy passage to market for the fruits of deforestation. While on the supply side, part of the problem rests with a poor prioritisation of aid, the auditors say. Liberia received €11.9m to tackle illegal logging, when its yearly wood exports to the EU only averaged €5m.
Austrian timber company Schweighofer is linked to large-scale illegal logging which accounts for half of Romania's timber production. An EIA investigation finds that almost all the illegal timber ends up in the company's mills. Romania still has an estimated 218,000 hectares of old growth forests. A recent Romanian government study estimated that 80 million cubic meters of timber have been cut illegally in the past 20 years, representing a loss to the Romanian economy of over €5 billion. Following the report’s publication, WWF filed a complaint at the Federal Forest Office in Vienna for violations of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) and calls for a full investigation of the allegations against Schweighofer.
PEFC Italy, along with Conlegno, RiSSC, Risk Monitor and CNVP have launched a project aimed at preventing criminal organizations infiltrating into the EU timber market. The TREES project (Timber Regulation Enforcement to protect European wood Sector from criminal infiltration) aims at promoting standard procedures to prevent the risks of criminal infiltrations into the European market. By the end of the project, a standardized set of guidelines, actions and strategies to overcome difficulties in Due Diligence implementation will be developed, providing market operators with suggestions on how to carry out risk assessments and risk procedures.
British businesses from the high street and timber, construction, publishing, DIY and grocery industries are among the first UK firms committing to responsible forest trade to help end deforestation around the world with a shift to 100 per cent sustainable timber and wood products by 2020. The existing loopholes in the current legislation to combat illegal timber means some industries are exempt from ensuring that their wood or products have come from legal sources. In 2015 the timber regulation is due to be reviewed and WWF and its campaign supporters are calling on the UK government to demand the EU makes the necessary improvements to the regulation to ensure that all timber products are covered and thus end the import of illegal wood.
WWF is urging the European Commission to use the results of the recent surveys on implementation of the EU Timber Regulations to put more pressure on national governments and take legal action against non-compliant countries. WWF’s EU Government barometer shows that only 11 EU countries have so far adopted national legislation and procedures considered robust enough to control the legality of timber and timber products, thus leaving 17 without robust legislation. The most recent EU survey on implementation highlights Hungary, Poland, Spain, Malta, France, Greece and Italy as being among the countries failing to fully implement the regulations.
The Indonesian Government is considering the viability of creating a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) on timber trade with Australia to boost exports of forestry products. The VPA with Australia would be similar to the VPA between Indonesia and Europe: Under the EU-Indonesia VPA, all timber and timber products certified by the domestic timber legality verification system (SVLK) are considered legally harvested and in compliance with the EU’s timber regulation.
This article explains how FSC certification can help to increase the levels of trust in due diligence systems. FSC material is recognised as carrying a low (negligible) risk if the FSC certificate is valid; the material in question is covered by the scope of the certificate; and that there is access to the required information.
Global Witness has accused Danish timber company, DLH, of illegal timber purchases worth $305,000 in 2012. The investigation showed that the timber was felled using outdated permits that were deemed illegal in Liberia because of widespread misuse, fraud and corruption. These accusations put DLH in breach of its FSC certification, and any further imports of this kind would make the company liable to criminal sanctions under the EU Timber Regulation.
Germany’s EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) competent authority, BLE, is investigating suspected breaches of the law.
BLE was apparently tipped off by its Belgian counterpart and Greenpeace about several consignments of wenge (often referred to as Congolese Rosewood) delivered via Antwerp to a number of German customers.
Greenpeace alleges that the timber comes from an illegal source in Democratic Republic of Congo and contravenes the EUTR.
One report showed a complicated supply chain with the timber being imported from the Congo to Belgium by a Swizz trader, and from there on to Germany.