Clearcut forest in Russia. Much of the timber from clearcuts like these are destined for Finland.
Now however, the birch tree is commercially useful as pulp for
the paper industry. Not surprisingly after destroying so much birch
forest for decades, the Finns don't have enough birch forest left
for the requirements of their timber industry. So now they import
birch logs from Russia, many of which are illegally logged.
recent investigation revealed the extent of this trade in
illegal logs across the Russian-Finnish border. The response of the
Finnish Government to the illegal logging uncovered by the
investigation has been to shrug its shoulders: no government
"This is an unacceptable response from a Government that
considers itself a 'superpower of forests'. Having abdicated its
responsibilities to control illegal timber coming across its
borders to industry, it doesn't even get involved when presented
with evidence of industry failure", said Sini Harkki, Greenpeace
Nordic campaigner. "We've decided to award Finland with the
infamous Golden Chainsaw award, which we reserve for the worst
forest crime offenders."
A recent World Bank report cited the cost of lost revenues to
the market and governments due to illegal activity at US$10-15
billion annually. In the face of the massive trade in illegal
timber, the European Commission is currently considering
legislative options to tackle the problem of illegally logged
timber being imported into Europe.
A ban on illegal timber being imported and sold in Europe has
strong support from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and the
business community. Greenpeace, together with over
160 NGO's and over 80 businesses, including IKEA, Homebase,
Castorama France, B&Q, Finnforest (UK) are all calling for EU
legislation to make it illegal to import illegally sourced timber
and wood products.
The European Commission's response to the problem has been weak,
claiming that voluntary measures are enough. Beyond that the
European Commission has been taking the slow road to action, with a
promised report on options on further legislation to stem the flow
of illegal timber due over two years ago. It is now time for action
from the Commission.
"What we are calling for is European-Union-wide legislation to
ensure that illegally logged timber does not end up on the European
market whether it is from Russia, the Amazon, Indonesia or
laundered from Asia and the Pacific through China", said Sue
Connor, Greenpeace forest campaigner. "Finland must start acting as
a responsible state body and support the call for EU legislation to
ban illegal timber."
Truck loaded with illegallylogged birch from Russian Karelia, arriving at the UPM-Kymmene pulp-,paper- and sawmill in Kaukas, Lappeenranta, Finland. A Greenpeace report reveals how illegally logged timber from Russia is being freely imported into Finland. (© Greenpeace / Snellman)
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