Press release / May 4, 2016

EU crackdown on global trade in illegal timber must tackle key drivers - conflict and corruption

The EU must prioritise the role played by conflict and corruption in fuelling the multi-billion trade in illegally logged wood, said Global Witness in response to the evaluation of the EU’s flagship forest policy, the FLEGT Action Plan.

"The evaluation of the EU’s efforts to tackle the global trade in illegal timber demonstrates how urgent it is that Europe reinforces its efforts to tackle conflict and corruption in timber producing countries,” said Jo Blackman, senior campaigner at Global Witness. “As one of the world’s leading donors and trade partners to rainforest-rich developing countries, the EU has a responsibility to ensure that its appetite for timber isn’t driving abuse and instability in some of the poorest countries in the world. The EU must ensure that any planned FLEGT license timber scheme is not compromised by corruption and other abuses.”

Global Witness’s 2015 exposé Blood Timber: How Europe helped fund war in Central African Republic[1] revealed how European companies were dealing with CAR logging companies that in 2013 alone paid over 3.4 million euros to armed rebels in order to carry on logging throughout the country’s war.  CAR timber continued to enter Europe markets, helping bankroll a conflict that cost 5,000 lives and displaced over a million people. 

Jo Blackman said, “The EU must learn from the disastrous consequences of its failure to address the problem of conflict timber in the Central African Republic and commit to concrete action to address these risks more broadly. It must prioritise measures to strengthen law enforcement in the logging sector and tackle risks of corruption along supply chains.”

Global Witness has also documented how the Democratic Republic of Congo’s €87.1 million timber trade is rife with illegality, and is entering Europe despite trade laws aimed at keeping illegal wood off the EU market.[2]

The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan was adopted in 2003 and sets out a range of measures to tackle illegal logging.  It includes measures in producer countries to improve legality in the sector to tackle the supply of illegal timber at source, as well as measures to tackle the demand for illegal timber by banning the import of illegally logged timber into Europe.

For interviews and briefings please contact:

Jo Blackman +44 (0)7912 517 126, [email protected]

Alice Harrison +44 (0)7841 338792, [email protected]


[1] https://www.globalwitness.org/documents/18026/BLOOD_TIMBER_web.pdf

[2] https://www.globalwitness.org/documents/18008/Exporting_impunity_Eng.pdf

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