Imports of illegal timber fall in five major countries, says report

A series of reports published by Chatham House, says that five major timber importers have made progress in cutting illegally imported wood from their markets since 2010.

The analysis — which covers Britain, France, Japan, the Netherlands, and the US— is based on point-of-origin data for timber imports. For example, countries and states with a high risk of illegal logging and timber laundering would hurt an importer’s rating.

Overall, the reports estimate that 4% of timber imports by volume are still at “high risk of illegality”, at an estimated value of $7bn (£4.5bn).

Of the five countries assessed, Japan has the highest proportion of high-risk imports (estimated at 10%), chiefly because of large volumes of trade with China, Russia, and Malaysia — all of which have problems with illegally sourced wood.

Chatham House attributes the decline in suspect timber imports to several factors, including recent legislation passed in the US (the Lacey Act) and Europe (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT)).

“Governments and the private sector in all five consumer countries have made concerted efforts to address the issue of illegal imports of wood-based products, including by passing legislation, implementing public procurement policies, signing up to certification schemes and working in partnership with producer countries. However, all have room for improvement,” said Alison Hoare, senior research fellow at Chatham House.

Logging is one of the biggest drivers of deforestation. Logging roads open up previously inaccessible areas to outright clearing, while operations can increase the risk of fire and disease, especially in old-growth forests.

Travis Perkins plc is making continuous efforts to help combat illegal deforestation. Last month the Group was identified as one of eleven British companies with the “most improved” deforestation policy in the past 12 months as its continued its pledge to identify and halt deforestation in their supply chains this year

This article has been adapted from an article published in The Guardian.