Activists being removed from their blockade of the Stora Enso headquarters in Helsinki

We have some good news from Russia or, at least, the potential for good news.

Back in September, our Partners in Crime report revealed how Finland is importing vast quantities of timber logged illegally in neighbouring Russia. According to federal law, all forestry management plans must undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment - in the republic of Karelia these assessments are not being done yet the local government continues to hand out logging permits.

However, this week the Head of the Federal Forestry Agency in Russia has ordered an immediate investigation into the problem, appointing a commission to report back next month. This is a huge step forward and acknowledges the scale of the problem - of all the timber felled in Karelia, the majority is illegal.

A great deal of that timber crosses the border from Karelia into Finland, at least 3 million m3 each year, including timber destined for the pulp and paper mills of companies like UPM and our old friends Stora Enso. This, in turn, is exported to magazine and book publishers throughout Europe.

On Monday, our Finnish and Swedish colleagues took action to remind the industry of its role in forest destruction by blockading Stora Enso's headquarters in Helsinki. As well as Russian imports, the company also buys timber logged in Finland itself where the last remaining fragments of ancient forests in Europe are under threat.

Stora Enso has of course denied that it's doing anything wrong, but the blockade was triggered by an appeal from a group of 240 Finnish scientists for logging in old-growth areas to be stopped. Habitats and biodiversity are being irreparably damaged, they say, and we're not going to argue with that.

The results of the Russian investigation will make interesting reading and in the meantime we'll keep up the pressure on the companies and governments who are allowing illegal timber to come into the EU in the first place. Of course, if the timber consultation produces a good result, then it's possible we could see all such imports banned. Fingers crossed.