MEPs have taken an axe to the illegal logging trade today by banning the sale of illegal timber in Europe and setting up strict penalties for those caught doing so.
Illegal logging is estimated to represent 20-40% of global industrial wood production, and contributes heavily to carbon emissions and the destruction of biodiversity.
South East England's Lib Dem Euro MP Catherine Bearder commented, "Illegal logging causes environmental, economic and human devastation right across the world. By saying "no" to these timber cowboys in Europe we can do our bit to support developing countries and protect forests ravaged by illegal logging."
"This action will support responsible timber producers who employ sustainable and legal methods, for whom the illegal timber trade depresses prices for by up to 16%."
"The EU has taken an important step in cutting the illegal timber trade down to size. We must now ensure that member states enforce this ban properly."
WWF estimates that around €3bn of illegal timber from places like the Congo Basin and Indonesia reaches the EU every year. The new rules impose strict fines for those caught first placing illegal timber on the European market and establishes traceability through the whole supply chain.
Illegal deforestation has devastating effects. On a global level, deforestation as a whole is estimated to contribute 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Where it occurs, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity and landslides are all potential problems. The plunder of this natural resource also hits forest-dependent peoples and the economies of developing countries.
Council has already informally agreed with the terms of this draft legislation but will need to rubber stamp it before it can pass into law. The rules are expected to take effect in late 2012 to allow timber operators time to adapt.