Despite strong efforts to raise barriers against the flow of illegal timber, the EU remain a significant destination for the global trade in illegally harvested wood.
With the support of the EU LIFE Programme, stakeholders in Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Netherlands will now get the opportunity to work together in the project named LIFE Legal Wood to further strengthen the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), due diligence and exchange of information related to the shared aim of stopping illegal timber in supply chains.
Partners of the LIFE II project - a continuation of LIFE I (2016-2018) - include NEPCon, Amfori, Baskegur, Cesefor, Conlegno, Etifor, Foresna, GD Holz, Le Commerce du Bois, Probos and the CA’s of Belgium, Germany and Spain.
Forming a robust EU wide alliance, these organisations will build on previous results, creating a stronger awareness of EUTR and due diligence processes in their respective countries and across the EU.
Illegal logging and the global trade in illegally harvested timber is one of the most significant causes of deforestation. While the vast majority is taking place in the Amazon basin, Central Africa and Southeast Asia, illegal logging and trade in illegally harvested timber is also continuing to happen within Europe, which remain one of the largest markets for the import of tropical timber.
In a recent report by Interpol, illegal logging was estimated to account for 50-90 per cent of the volume of all forestry in key producer tropical countries and 15-30 per cent globally with a total worth of up to €90 billion or 10-30 per cent of global wood trade.
Adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in 2010, The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) reflects the EU’s determination to prohibit trading on the EU market of illegally harvested timber, regardless of its origin. EUTR prohibits operators in Europe from placing illegally harvested timber on the market and requires EU traders to undertake due diligence.
However, interpretation and implementation within the forest product industry, which mainly consists of small and medium enterprises (SME’s), has not been consistent.
This project aims to create a higher level of implementation of the EUTR among the EU’s thousands of SMEs, and to help these make risk assessment and due diligence an integral, constructive element within their business and administrative systems to comply with the requirements of the EUTR.
With LIFE I (2016-2018), a previous project also focusing on EUTR, the core project goal was to tackle continuing lack of knowledge of the EUTR’s sometimes seemingly complex requirements and show companies that due diligence is at heart good business practice.
The project developed new country specific information that assessed illegality risk of timber supply, from over 40 timber exporting countries worldwide. This too was distributed free, both during the one-day SME training in the 12 Project countries, and via the NEPCon Sourcing Hub, where all information was publicly available.
The objectives of this current project, LIFE II (2019-2022) is to complement LIFE I and to close remaining gaps in the EUTR implementation, strengthening capacities where duty holders are still struggling to achieve effective compliance.
Specifically, the project will focus on timber imports, as this has been identified as the highest risk for EUTR violations (as opposed to timber grown in the EU). The project will focus activities on the 6 EU countries with the highest volumes of timber imports, including high risk tropical timber: Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Netherlands.
The overall objective will be to reduce illegal logging and improve sustainable forest management globally through improved compliance, monitoring and enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation among key duty holders. More specifically, the project aims to:
Increase capacity among key stakeholders to understand, comply with, monitor, and enforce the EUTR requirements, especially those regulating imported timber in EU countries where the highest impact can be made.
Improve efficiency and effectiveness in EUTR compliance, monitoring and enforcement among key stakeholders through increased availability and quality of free information about legality risks for imported timber.
Increase awareness of key stakeholders regarding the availability of free information and resources regarding imported timber risks to enable better EUTR compliance.
LIFE II will include a range of actions aimed to strengthen the compliance with EUTR in the European timber and furniture industry. These include:
Free workshops for SME’s in project countries and EU wide.
Establish stakeholder networks to enable more direct collaboration and increase stakeholder. efficiency in EUTR compliance.
Provide risk database for SME’s.
Distribution of information material, articles and newsletters.
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