illegal timber rafting in Bangladesh. © Tree News
illegal timber rafting in Bangladesh. © Tree News

UK second highest importer of illegal timber

Aug 2008

In summer 2008 the World Wildlife Fund Germany published a report revealing that almost 20 per cent of the wood imported into the European Union in 2006 came from illegal sources, with the UK being the second highest importer, after Finland.

The UK being the largest importer in the EU of furniture, finished wood products as well as plywood, it imported 3.5 million cubic metres of illegal wood that year.

Overall, the EU imported between 26.5 and 33.1 million cubic metres of illegal wood. 23 per cent of products imported from Eastern Europe originated from illegal or suspect sources, 40 per cent from South-East Asia, 30 per cent from Latin America and up to 56 per cent from Africa. The report traces ten main trading routes, the biggest one going through Russia. Half of this wood arrived in the European market through Finland.

The WWF put pressure on the British government for playing a major role in fuelling the illegal trade, and in the twelve months since the report was published, the UK government has announced some serious steps to better the situation.

WWF offers the full report for download (pdf).

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