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IP/04/980

Brussels, 20 July 2004

Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) - Commission acts to combat illegal logging

The European Commission today adopted a comprehensive set of measures to combat the growing problem of illegal logging and the related trade in illegally harvested timber that robs governments in affected developing countries of an estimated €10-15bn every year in lost revenue. The main elements of the package are: (i) voluntary partnerships with wood-producing countries badly affected by illegal logging to support and promote governance reform in their timber sectors; (ii) a regulation that sets up a legally binding licensing scheme with partner countries to ensure that only legal timber from these countries is allowed into the EU. The package is based on an innovative approach that links the push for good governance in developing countries with the legal instruments and leverage offered by the EU's internal market.

Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: “All major wood importing countries have to recognise the vital role they must play in closing down the international trade in illegal timber. Today we are showing the way. I strongly encourage others to join our ranks”.

Commenting on the voluntary agreements that are at the core of the proposed package, Commissioner Nielson said: “Only by working in close partnership with wood-producing countries can we hope to have a real impact. The partnership agreements provide producing countries with the incentives and support required for them to play a leading role in the fight against illegal logging.”

Nielson concluded: “We want to promote honest logging as an important contribution to the social and economic development of our partner countries. And we want to protect our own consumers. Ultimately the European consumer should be able to by garden furniture with a clear conscience”.

Margot Wallström, European Commissioner for Environment, said: “Combating illegal logging and related trade is something we committed ourselves to at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Today's measures show that we are determined to deliver on our commitments.”

Background

Illegal logging and the associated trade in illegal timber are responsible for vast environmental damage in developing and transition countries. Illegal logging is linked intimately with corruption and bad governance, and robs governments in affected developing countries of an estimated €10-15bn every year in lost revenue. It also impoverishes rural communities in developing countries who depend on forest products for a living.

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the EU pledged to work in partnership with wood-producing countries to eradicate illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber.

New measures to combat illegal logging follow the European Commission’s 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 €650m to support forest conservation and sustainable management in Asia, Central Africa and South America.


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