Saturday, 13 September 2008

EU accused over failure to tackle illegal logging

EU accused over failure to tackle illegal logging

The EU has been accused of abandoning laws to end illegal logging as campaigners claim the commission is undermining its green credentials.

By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent Sep 2008
The Telegraph UK

Deforestation accounts for 20 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions

Europe is the largest market for timber in the world. However, up to a fifth of imports are illegally felled from protected rainforests.

The European Commission was meant to bring forward legislation this week to end the trade inside EU borders.

But the vote was delayed and environment groups now fear it could be years before any decision is made.

Leading environmental groups including the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have written to President of the EU Manuel Barroso to demand legislation is brought forward.

Deforestation accounts for 20 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, more carbon dioxide than is produced by all worldwide transport, and the group fear that the EU's inaction on illegal logging signals wider complacency over climate change.

DIY wooden goods, furniture, paper and pulp are a massive market in Europe and environnmentalists fear the delay is being caused by pressure from industry groups as well as wrangling over the right way forward for legislation.

In a strongly-worded letter the group claim that the US is ahead of the EU in controlling illegal timber and any further delay will "jeopardize EU leadership" on environmental matters.

It read: "We are gravely concerned that the EU's response towards the pressing problem of deforestation, illegal logging and related trade has been repeatedly delayed for no apparent reason. We believe that it is in the EU's interests to establish a level playing field and to support progressive companies rather than to tolerate bad practice by inaction."

Barry Gardiner, the Prime Minister's special envoy on forestry, said the legislation has been repeatedly "fudged" and now risks being abandoned altogether.

Owen Espley, forests campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "It is very important that the EU shows leadership in eradicating the market for illegal timber in Europe.

If they do not we can expect the deforestation to continue, forest communities to lose their homes and livelihoods and the corruption and human rights abuses around illegal logging to get worse."

Deforestation was came to the fore this week after Prince Charles called on the City to set up financial markets to protect the rainforest.