How do we combat illegal timber players in Europe?
We all know that the fight against illegality is an effective way to reduce deforestation. However, too much illegal timber is being sold worldwide, including in Europe! This production, beyond the fact that it constitutes unfair competition for the players involved in the sector - particularly certified companies - often leads directly to blatant cases of forest damage.
We now note that the import of illegal wood into Europe is suddenly making a comeback, causing serious damage to an industry that has been striving for over two decades to make progress towards sustainable management and the promotion of legal and certified timber.
We need to be careful, because we're witnessing a step backwards that is endangering our sector, which nevertheless remains a bulwark against deforestation..
Although the EU Timber Regulation is a key tool in the fight against the sale of illegal timber, it must be noted today that this regulation isn't enough to counter the excesses of some of these players, who operate illegally with total impunity. The EUTR monitoring system does not work due to a lack of knowledge about our sector and a major lack of resources.
The ATIBT marketing commission sounded the alarm in 2019, and to date, there is nothing to indicate that measures are being taken at the European authority level to stop the actions of these companies that we all know - but against which nothing is being done. In particular, we need to work more closely with customs and ports, and raise their awareness regarding this visible menace.
ATIBT cannot draw up a black list, but ATIBT and the federations constitute a kind of "safety zone". The "safety zone". Illegal timber undermines the rules of the market, endangers certified logging companies and projects an extremely negative image of our profession, even though there are many exemplary loggers.
The ATIBT and the federations cannot act beyond their respective prerogatives - these actions are considered to be large-scale organised crime and therefore fall within the responsibility of INTERPOL and the EU.
As for us - the professional operators - we must express ourselves clearly and only buy legal and/or sustainable certified timber because it is through certification systems that imports will be 100% reliable and will ensure the future of our profession!
We call on the competent national authorities to strongly consolidate their level of monitoring and, above all, to target the known companies that import timber of dubious origin in order to more effectively combat the illegal timber trade.