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Forests clean our air and play an important role in the water cycle. In addition they are home to a majority of the planets land-based species. Swedish forests, which cover almost 70 percent of the country’s land mass, are an important part of both Swedish society and the economy.
Illegal forest clearance not only involves a risk of wiping out the animals and plants that lose their natural habitat, it can also lead to increasing environmental problems as the number of areas of cleared forest increases. Areas of cleared forest contribute to climate change as a decrease in the amount of forest makes it more difficult for nature to bind carbon dioxide. This leads to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In addition, illegal forest clearance also has a negative effect on the development of the societies around the forests, since the illegal earnings do not benefit society in the form of e.g. the taxes that contribute to paying for development, healthcare and education.
When the subject of illegal forest clearance comes up, most people think of the disappearing rain forests, but illegal clearing is also a problem in our part of the world. It is an organised criminal activity which covers the whole process from cutting down the trees to the import and export of timber and timber products. In Sweden, we import a lot of timber from the east, from among other places Russia and the Baltic States, whose forests are important preservation areas, hosting an even greater number of species than their Swedish counterparts. Unfortunately, illegal forest clearance is common in these countries.
The EU’s Timber Regulation, which came into force in March 2013, means stricter laws in relation to the felling of forest and the trade in timber and timber products. Those who act in breach of the regulation face up to two years imprisonment, and among other things, importers are required to ensure that the timber they purchase has been produced by legal forestry. If you want to be sure that the wooden products you purchase have been produced by sound and environmentally friendly forestry based on the idea of sustainability and where working conditions are good, you can ask in the shop whether the timber is environmentally certified.