EU states failing on forest protection says WWF

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has criticised member states over their efforts to curb illegal logging. Only Austria and the UK are praised for implementing an action plan agreed at EU level in 2003.

In its ‘Illegal Logging Government Barometer’ published on 30 April, the WWF claims that 70% of member states are failing to take any “real action” to implement the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT), adopted in May 2003 as part of the EU’s follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. 

In addition to providing support to timber-producing countries and encouraging private-sector action to prevent illegal timber sale, the FLEGT plan proposes the creation of voluntary partnership agreements between member states and timber-producing countries. Under the proposed agreements, partnering countries establish timber-licensing schemes whereby only licensed timber is allowed to enter the EU market. 

So far, according to the WWF, only Austria has implemented a solid plan to tackle both internal corruption in its forest industry and illegal timber imports. The UK is also praised for a partnership agreement with Indonesia, but this agreement was implemented separately by the UK, before FLEGT was adopted. Ireland and the Czech Repuplic are singled out in the assessment for their “failure to do anything proactively on illegal logging” and Poland and Hungary also received poor marks. 

Apart from “limited action” by eight other member states, the WWF’s overall assessment is that FLEGT is being poorly implemented, that it has too many loopholes, and that it is not a successful policy instrument. The NGO is calling for new legislation to outlaw illegal timber and wood product imports into the European Union. 

FLEGT is part of the EU’s wider efforts to support sustainable forest management, which includes the 1998 EU Forestry Strategy and the 2006 EU Forest Action Plan

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