In the recent Forest forum meeting we shared Complicit in Corruption - a recent report written by non-profit Earthsight, highlighting the widespread corruption in Ukraine's forests, and revealing how illegality permeates the timber supply chain in Ukraine from harvest to export.
Earthsight spent two years running field and undercover investigations in Ukraine. Approximately 70% of Ukraine's timber exports enter the EU and Earthsight's investigations indicate that 40% of this timber is being illegally harvest or traded. The report also claims that a significant volume of illegally harvested timber has received the FSC stamp - the former chief of one of the largest timber producing state-forest enterprises admitted to Earthsight he had found it easy to circumvent FSC checks.
32 indigenous villagers in Cambodia’s north-eastern area, Stung Treng province, called on local forestry officials to crackdown on illegal saw mills and to provide them with protection after they received death threats from unsanctioned loggers of luxury timber. The 32 villagers are community activists, and they vowed to keep fighting illegal logging in their local area despite the threats. The environmental watchdog Global Witness said in a report in February that China’s voracious demand for luxury furniture is the driver behind the multimillion-dollar illegal trade in rosewood in Cambodia.
Four Queensland timber company employees have been fined and sentenced to jail for illegally exporting timber
The reputation of Australia's $2 billion timber export industry is in question after four Queensland workers were fined and sentenced to jail for illegally exporting timber. Three directors and an employee of a wholesale timber and flooring company in Brisbane pleaded guilty to falsifying Commonwealth documents to send timber to a number of countries between 2006 and 2009.
British businesses from the high street and timber, construction, publishing, DIY and grocery industries are among the first UK firms committing to responsible forest trade to help end deforestation around the world with a shift to 100 per cent sustainable timber and wood products by 2020. The existing loopholes in the current legislation to combat illegal timber means some industries are exempt from ensuring that their wood or products have come from legal sources. In 2015 the timber regulation is due to be reviewed and WWF and its campaign supporters are calling on the UK government to demand the EU makes the necessary improvements to the regulation to ensure that all timber products are covered and thus end the import of illegal wood.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce has revealed that US$ 17 million worth of timber was recently found to have been smuggled from Myanmar to China via illegal routes avoiding official checkpoints along the road to Muse, Myanmar's border town with China. Most of Myanmar’s trade is with China and Thailand and with Chinese import restrictions on some agricultural products from Myanmar, local exporters find it difficult to get health recommendations from China for their exports, creating a growing illegal trade.
Four Russians have been charged with smuggling timber valued at $3m per month into neighbouring China. The four are accused of using dozens of different companies and fake documents to smuggle 150 freight cars of lumber every month. Police believe the four are part of a much larger smuggling ring. Trade across the border is driven by huge Chinese demand for raw materials, and illegal trade increased dramatically after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Illegal timber trade from Russia to China in 2011 was valued at $1.3 billion, accounting for around 10 million cubic metres of logs and sawn timber.