EU, US and Australia increase enforcement of laws to combat illegal timber trade

Government agencies in the EU, Australia and the United States are stepping up enforcement of laws that aim to stop illegal timber from reaching their markets.

by EU FLEGT Facility

In the six months to March 2016, enforcement officials in 14 EU Members States and Australia inspected 495 company sites and reviewed 955 due diligence systems.* They issued a total of 396 corrective action requirements, four injunctions and 55 sanctions.

The statistics come from the first of what will be six-monthly surveys by Forest Trends. The survey revealed that action by enforcement agencies was associated with timber products from 15 sources or processing countries, among which China, Brazil, Cameroon, Myanmar, and the Republic of Congo were most often implicated.

"It’s great to get this public insight into the work that enforcement officials have been doing recently, and it shows that companies are being put under pressure to change the way they buy wood,” says Jade Saunders, a Senior Policy Analyst at Forest Trends.

“I hope that over time more European agencies will be able to report in the same way so that we can build up a detailed picture of the sanctions that are facing illegal operators, and the way that the sector is changing. Because there is no doubt that it is."

The survey also indicates how enforcement agencies divide their attention among timber importers, pulp and paper importers, furniture importers and domestic forest producers. About half of all inspections and compliance actions related to importers of timber. While a fifth (19%) of all inspections focused on domestic producers, this group accounted for only 9% of non-compliance actions.

The survey results are summarised in the Spring 2016 newsletter of the Timber Regulation Enforcement Exchange, a regular gathering of officials responsible for implementing legislation such as the EU Timber Regulation, the US Lacey Act and the Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Act.

Forest Trends is translating the Spring 2016 newsletter into Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, French, and Spanish. For more information visit Forest Trends.

*The 14 EU Member States that responded to the survey were: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, and one Member State that preferred not to be identified.