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IP/04/1521

Brussels, 21 December 2004

Commission commits €20m to the fight against illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber

The European Commission today committed €20m to support the EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), which aims to combat illegal logging and related trade. The Commission will support international and non-governmental organisations and the private sector, through a range of innovative pilot activities, to promote governance reform in countries affected by illegal logging and to facilitate trade in legally harvested timber. The release of €20m to support the FLEGT initiative forms part of a new commitment of more than €60m for projects to support the conservation and sustainable management of forests in developing countries.

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, called on wood-consuming countries to recognise the vital role they must play in closing down the international trade in illegal timber. He said: The European Commission is committed to combating illegal logging, by helping to improve law enforcement and governance in wood-producing countries, and by working to stop the trade in illegally harvested wood and wood products.”

In July 2004, the Commission adopted new measures to combat illegal logging and the associated trade, including a draft Regulation to set up a licensing scheme to restrict imports of illegally-harvested timber into the EU.

The Commission will provide €20m, through a range of international, European and developing country partners, to support:

i). Intergovernmental dialogue aimed at building commitment for reforms to combat illegal logging and its underlying causes.
ii). Models of good practice for forest governance
iii). Independent monitoring / auditing of forest harvesting operations

iv). Strengthening local civil society in support of improved forest sector governance.

v). Facilitating trade in legally-harvested timber, and encouraging corporate social responsibility in the EU timber importing industry.

Illegal logging and the international trade in illegal timber are prominent among factors accelerating the rapid loss of global forests. This rapid destruction adversely affects many of the world's poorest people, who depend on forest resources for a living. Illegal logging fuels corruption and undermines the rule of law in many wood-producing countries. It also deprives governments of vital revenues to spend on poverty reduction programmes. The World Bank estimates that developing country governments are currently losing some US$10-15 billion annually due to illegal logging.

Background

Efforts to combat illegal logging build on a long-standing commitment to the sustainable management and conservation of the world’s remaining forests. Over the past decade the EC has provided more than €700m to support forest conservation and sustainable management in Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America. The latest cluster of projects has been funded through the EU Tropical Forest Budget Line.

For further information see:

MEMO/04/194 of 20 July 2004


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