Forest crimes cost between $ 51 million and $ 152 million per year
WWF has issued a new report stating the EU member-states allow the import of illegal timber.
According to eco-advocates, forest crimes generate loss of around Щатски долар 51 to Щатски долар 152 million annually in the world.
The conservation organization report explains this with existing EU legislation, which according to WWF does not provide consumers with guarantees that the wood used in the products they had purchased was not harvested and imported illegally. The document identifies serious gaps in the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council (EUTR) in all 16 Member States participating in the verification.
The conclusion shows that, without strong political will on behalf of national governments, the Regulation does not yet have a lasting impact on timber trade with proven legal origin.
Illegal logging is a worldwide problem that causes serious environmental, social and economic impacts, the organization warns. It destroys forests globally, and its negative effect exacerbates the climate crisis and leads to biodiversity loss. According to Interpol, forest crime also carries financial losses worth between Щатски долар 51 and Щатски долар 152 million worldwide each year
At the same time, the European Union is one of the largest consumers of timber in the world and imports 150 million tons of forest products each year. Due to this, more than six years ago, the so-called EUTR regulation was adopted, aiming to ensure that timber entered the European market was extracted in a legal and responsible manner, the eco-organization recalls. They further add the reason for this, i.e. wood is present in many everyday products and it is important to ensure that its use does not fuel illegal activities and does not deteriorate the condition of old forests.
Adopting the EUTR in 2013, Member States recognized their responsibility for its correct implementation. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and the WWF report draws attention to the serious gaps at national level.
"Six years after the Regulation entry into force, the lack of real action of the Member States makes it meaningless, " commented Anke Schulmaster, from the Forest Division of WWF, European Policies (Brussels).
"Without serious criminal sanctions, rigorous checks and adequate resources to enforce them, the regulation remains 'toothless'. At the same time the problem of illegal logging is soaring. Ensuring that environmental laws are adequately implemented will be the first test for the European Green Pact ambitions. "
According to the WWF report, only half of the 16 countries tested have included sanctions in their national legislation. In addition, control system is too poor and the competent authorities face a severe shortage of resources in executing their responsibilities.
WWF Bulgaria took part in the survey and found out that some of the major weaknesses in the implementation of the Regulation are also present in Bulgaria. The number of court cases remains insignificant and zero sanctions for timber import were reported in the period March 2015 - February 2017. WWF finds it extremely worrying and calls for cooperation with European and international authorities so as to achieve specific results in the short term.
According to the conservation organization analysis of illegal logging, the annual amount of it in Bulgaria reaches 2.4-2.7 million dense cubic meters or between 1/4 and 1/3 of the total yield. The main illegal activities are logging of unmarked trees, logging without a permit, transporting timber without an official license and manipulating the amount of material harvested. Through the illegal timber harvesting, the gray forestry sector generates hidden revenues of about BGN 150 million.
Through the illegal logging, the “gray” forestry sector generates hidden revenues of around BGN 150 million. In addition to these financial losses, forests cannot fulfill effectively their production, water conservation and environmental functions.
Thus, in addition to penalizing the state budget, illegal wood harvesting deprives entire areas of clean air and drinking water in the long term, environmentalists alarm.