The EU timber footprint
The EU is one of the world's major wood consumers. With an annual import of around 130 million cubic metres of timber, it has a major responsibility to ensure that its wood consumption does not lead to illegal exploitation and destruction of forests.
The timber is imported from all parts of the world – including Russia, other European countries such as Ukraine, and many tropical countries where illegal logging is a serious threat to the forests. Our estimates, using wood product flow analysis*, show that while there have been improvements in recent years, there are still clear anomalies in trade figures which would suggest ongoing illegality. Current estimates put the suspected total value of the illegal portion of this trade at €3.8bn, around 15% of the total import value. Read more about the EU's wood imports.
We believe that EU governments have a special responsibility to ensure that the two forthcoming pieces of legislation to combat the trade in illegal timber and wood products (the FLEGT and EU Timber Regulations) are effective and enforceable. They should also recognise that legality is not enough and that at a domestic level they should make use of the EU Public Utility Directives to put in place mandatory legality and sustainability requirements in their public procurement policies. They also need to make sure that the correct enabling environment is in place to close down the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber and wood products within the private sector.
The Government Barometer presented on this website puts a focus on government actions against illegal logging, including their actions with regard to the responsible public procurement of wood.
*Product flow analysis as used in the 2010 Chatham House report, Illegal Logging and related Trade. The data also reflects individual importing countries' efforts to exclude specific groups of illegal wood-based products.