James Murray, BusinessGreen, Wednesday 7 July 2010 at 13:22:00
MEPs vote 644-25 in favour of legislation blocking the import and sale of illegally logged timber
Green groups celebrated today after the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation banning the import and sale of timber obtained through illegal logging.
The parliament voted 644-25 in favour of the legislation, paving the way for the rules to come into effect from 2012.
The regulations still need to be rubber stamped by the European Council of member states, although the final approval is expected to be a formality after the council signalled last month that it would support the legislation.
The new rules will close a loophole that has made it possible for European firms to import and sell timber that has been logged illegally in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia.
According to WWF, the trade is worth up to £700m a year, with up to a fifth of timber imported into the EU alleged to come from illegal sources.
Under the new regulations, all companies importing and selling timber in the EU will be required to demonstrate that they have exercised adequate due diligence to ensure their timber has been felled legally.
European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik welcomed the passage of the legislation, arguing that the regulations marked a significant step towards tackling illegal logging.
"Combating illegal logging will bring environmental and development benefits, " he said. "With this, we are sending a signal to the world that the EU will no longer serve as a market for illegally harvested timber." …