How the EU is Battling Illegally Harvested Timber

In March 2013, the EU Timber Regulations came in to force, which placed an emphasis on ‘Operators’ and ‘Traders’ for timber of timber products to maintain records to demonstrate that the timber they are handling has been harvested legally, with the relevant licenses.

In the UK this is enacted in to law as the Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2013.

The Impact of Illegal Timber
All countries have rules to govern the ownership and harvesting rights of their forests, which should allow them to be managed in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.

However the enforcement of these rules can differ greatly depending on the country, and it’s important for the EU to recognise that as one of the largest trading blocks in the world, it is an attractive target for those selling illegally harvested timber and timber products.

This leads to natural habitats for wildlife being devastated and those human communities who depend on the forest being left without their basic needs being met.

The EU Timber Regulations are adopted by all member states, and rely on operators developing their own diligence structures to prevent this illegal timber having a value in the EU market.

Who does the EUTR affect?
The regulations affect anyone who introduces timber or timber products in to the EU market in the first place, and those who trade timber or timber products already on the market.

What Are the Penalties?
In the UK a maximum of 2 years in prison is available for those who breach the regulations, while more minor offences relating to inadequate tractability or record keeping can attract fines up to £5,000.

How to Comply
A Chain of Custody system allowing timber and timber products to be tracked back to source; verifying the correct felling license for the country of origin is a good start.

Our consultants have experience working with many different types of organisations who fall within the EU Timber Regulation’s remit – and others who make the ethical choice to source sustainable products.

We can help you implement a chain of custody management system, achieve recognised certification and retain the records required under the EUTR and the UK Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2013.

Robert Clements
Robert Clements
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