Treehuggers spank EU and get one step closer to a ban on naughty wood

Feature story - April 22, 2009
The EU parliament is proving that all naughty boys and girls just need a good (non-violent of course) spanking once in a while. Last year, more than half a million of you watched the "Forest Love" video and more than 130,000 of you treehuggers wrote to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, demanding a little Forest Love and an end to the EU’s massive contribution to deforestation and illegal logging. Call it a spanking, a love tap or just some tough love but you gave it to them good last year and they seem to like it.

The EU's timber sector is one of the least regulated in the EU and is the principal export market from Russia, the Amazon Basin and Africa.

In today's vote, the European Parliament supported the recommendations of its environment committee to strictly control timber products sold on the EU market. They are taking a page from your book and are looking to place a firm but loving grip on naughty wood sold on the EU market.

Now we just need the European agriculture ministers to get in on the game and take this law forward by the end of this year. It's time to make sure that illegal wood products stay out of the EU.

The Parliament took the Commission's draft timber law and made it better by making companies guarantee the legality of wood products sold in their shops and by creating an EU-wide framework for punishments for nasty offenders. It is also recommending a move towards fully sustainable sourcing.

Right now, the EU is one of the world's largest markets for timber. About 19 percent of EU wood imports come from illegal logging. That means without even knowing it, your new bed frame could be contributing to deforestation, forest destruction, climate change and biodiversity loss, poverty and social tensions in developing countries.

Not really what you had in mind when you were thinking about the unmentionables that come along with a new addition in the bedroom is it?

Almost there, don't stop!

As it stands, the current proposal needs to be a little firmer to really fight illegal logging and give you peace of mind about that new bed frame.

  • We need EU agriculture ministers to support the European Parliament's recommendations and adopt a strong common position before the end of June.
  • The Czech EU Presidency needs to show leadership if we are going to achieve this. A final adoption should then take place by the end of the year.

You know you want it

You know what you want when it comes to good wood. A survey carried out by "You Gov Plc" for WWF and Friends of the Earth in 14 European countries showed:

  • 56 percent of European citizens polled have their doubts about the legality of timber products sold in Europe (83 percent in Bulgaria, 64 percent in Sweden and Germany)
  • 92 percent want the EU to legislate on this matter.
  • 92 percent want companies, which break forestry laws to be prosecuted.

In 2006, Almost 90 companies, including Habitat (UK), Castorama (France), IKEA and Skanska International (Sweden), UNITAL (Association of Italian furniture manufacturers) all signed a joint declaration calling on European authorities to adopt legislation laying down clear rules for Europe which allow fair competition and responsible markets.

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