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Ireland Still Failing the Forests

Ireland has improved its performance somewhat, compared to 2007. A degree of inter-departmental collaboration is taking place, and the government has indicated its readiness to accept FLEGT-licensed timber once it becomes available. There's no indication of a public procurement policy for sustainable / legal timber products. The country is not involved with VPAs. Work is ongoing on the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation.

16th February 2012

Ireland still failing the forests

16 February 2012

EU countries are not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal and unsustainable timber or regulating its sale, despite the upcoming introduction of two pieces of legislation to halt its import, according to a survey by WWF.

While Ireland has improved its performance somewhat, when compared to its 2007 score, "there is no evidance of any commitment to procuring sustainable timber throughout the public sector, according to Just Forests, who coordinated the Irish response on behalf of WWF. 

According to Tom Roche of Just Forests, "security of supply, of quality timber is going to be a major concern for many EU timber importing countries. Ireland has been a net importer of tropical timber for well over 200 years. As the largest 'per capita' consumers of tropical hardwoods in the EU, our contribution to tropical deforestation is well documented.

In November 2010, after more than seven years of negotiation, the European Union published “Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 Laying Down the Obligations of Operators who Place Timber and Timber Products on the Market.” This new legislation, known as the European Union Timber Regulation (EU TR), bans the placing of illegal timber and certain, listed wood products on the EU market and puts an obligation of 'due diligence' on the operators who import them. The new EU TR will come in to force in March 2013.

The WWF survey found the highest scorers with 12 points (out of max 18 points) respectively were Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The UK has been the most consistent high scorer on performance, but has become one of the slowest in terms of improving its performance.

 So far only four countries are ready to receive licensed timber, under the FLEGT Regulation, which came into force in 2005. And as many as nine countries have still to put in place any of the necessary implementing measures for the EU Timber Regulation, which is due to be implemented on March 3rd, 2013

 Beatrix Richards, head of Forest Policy and Trade at WWF UK, said: “Overall the study shows that EU Member States will have a busy year if they’re going to ensure that these two key pieces of legislation are in place to exclude illegal timber.“

 Only seven countries are making good progress in ensuring that all public institutions buy only legal and sustainable timber and wood products. As many as 11 countries still have no such policy in place at all, despite having illegal timber in their supply chains, and monitoring of the quality of implementation is very weak. The idea of using public procurement policy to drive demand for sustainably produced timber arose out of the Rio Summit in 1992 and the Agenda 21 Initiative.

 Comparable scores over the course of the barometer surveys (2004-2012) show that Belgium, France and Slovenia are the most improved. The weakest performers overall in 2012, scoring two points or less, out of a total possible score of 18, were Estonia, Finland, Greece Italy, Slovakia and Spain.

One of the flagship actions by the EU is working with tropical countries to enter into voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) which will permit licensed timber from these countries to enter the EU both under the FLEGT regulation and the EU Timber Regulation. Only six EU countries are currently proactively engaged in supporting this.

Unless EU governments do more, wood products sold across the EU could still be undermining social infrastructure and devastating natural habitats in areas of Indonesia and the Congo Basin. Illegal and unsustainable logging impacts on communities and species, such as the orang-utan and gorilla, whilst also making a significant contribution to climate change.

Beatrix Richards added: “Legislation to ensure legality will only do so much. People need to continue to drive demand for sustainable forest management by buying timber certified through credible certifications schemes such as the Forestry Stewardship Council® (FSC®) to ensure both legality and responsible management. This will help to ensure that what they are buying is not destroying people’s livelihoods and biodiversity.”


Notes to editor

Just Forests is Ireland's longest established non-governmental development education organisations working solely on global poverty-related tropical forestry/timber issues from a local development perspective. Just Forests uses society's dependence on wood and the on-going decline in global forests as a tool to establish links between green-house gases, the loss of terrestrial biodiversity, "development", conflict and poverty.

Since our inception, Just Forests, have always insisted that good forest stewardship is inseparable from sustainable development, and if we fail to take it into account we risk undoing all the positive work being carried out by national and international development agencies and governments to reduce poverty and combat climate change.

Just Forests hosted the first Forest Certificatiuon and Timber Labelling Conference in Ireland in 1996.

For further information, please contact:
Tom Roche, Tel: 086 8049389, email: tomroche@justforests.org 

WWF is one of the world's largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. We're working to create solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature can thrive. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, tacking climate change and changing the way we live. www.wwf.org.uk

The first WWF Government Barometer on illegal logging and trade was carried out in early 2004, as a means of gauging EU Member State governments' commitment to implementing the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Action Plan agreed in 2003. This is now the 5th edition after a four year break. It assesses progress on three measures set out in the EU FLEGT Action plan: the FLEGT Regulation (which facilitates the import of licensed timber from producer countries which have negotiated a Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with the EU), development co-operation focused at addressing illegal logging in producer countries (through the VPA negotiations) and green public procurement. It also assesses progress on a fourth separate measure, the EU Timber regulation (EUTR) which came about as a result of the FLEGT action plan.

In 2012, the Barometer has focused on measuring EU Member States' support of these four measures. Comparable assessment over all five Government Barometers is possible for cross departmental collaboration, public procurement and support for the VPA process. New to the 2012 survey are questions relating to progress on the implementation of the FLEGT Regulation (which needs to be in place before VPA licensed timber can enter the EU) and the EUTR, which will come into force in March 2013. Each EU Member State has been measured against a maximum score of 18.

The WWF Government Barometer report was published as part of WWF’s ‘What Wood You Choose?’ campaign. For more information on this and for a copy of the report visit:

For further information, please contact:
Robin Clegg, Tel: 07771 818 707, email: rclegg@wwf.org.uk 

UPDATES available here...

'Illegal Logging Update and Stakeholder Consultation Number 19'. Author Beatrix Richards, WWF-UK.
application/pdfRichards090212.pdf (323.36 KB)
Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.
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