How Chinese companies launder illegal timber

An investigative journalist has exposed how companies in China launder wood of dubious origin in products they export, and how their customers in the EU are often aware of the fraud but don’t care and may even encourage it.

by Darren Poon (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Reporter Shi Yi and colleagues went undercover, posing as importers to Europe. They visited nine Chinese enterprises, seven of which talked openly about supplying products with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logos and certification even though their goods don’t meet FSC standards.

The article says the companies often do not know or care about how their timber was sourced and whether or not it is legal. It highlights China’s lack of legislation requiring companies to be more concerned about the legality and sustainability of their supply chains. It also highlights demand from EU buyers for fake paperwork — such as FSC certificates — to help them meet the due diligence requirements of the EU Timber Regulation.

The article suggests that in the absence of mandatory legislation on timber legality in China, little will change soon as the timber processing companies are caught in the middle of suppliers and customers who are themselves willing to trade in illegally or unsustainably harvested wood.


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