Importing illegal timber

Greenpeace timber01Following a long-running investigation by Greenpeace into the laundering of illegally harvested logs in Brazil, on Friday 14th November Belgian authorities impounded a further two shipping containers of timber, bringing the total held to six. Under the EU’s Timber Regulations 2013, if the timber is eventually proved to have been illegally harvested, it is illegal to use this in the EU and the shipments will be permanently confiscated and presumably destroyed.

(Click on the image to go to the Greepeace article)

However, as the Timber Regs place a responsibility on importers to put into place a due diligence system to check the authenticity of the timber and to prevent the import and use of illegally-harvested timber into the EU, Greenpeace are now urging the authorities to take action against the companies that purchased the timber from the Brazillian supplier in the first place. Given the weight of evidence that Greenpeace have amassed and made public about the logging company’s activities over the past six months, it’s difficult to see how the importers can justify their actions under the legislation, and we may be about to have the first very-public showing of the Timber Regs’ sharp new teeth.