The EU Parliament yesterday approved new rules that will prohibit the importation and trading of timber from illegal logging and enforce fines and other penalties for not complying with the rules that are will be scheduled for la te 2012.
Countries may impose proportinate fines to take into account the environmental and economic impact of any infringement, as well as the value of the timber or products sold. They may also seize illegal items and immediately suspend the offending business.
The objective of this legislation is to combat the "serious threat" posed by illegal logging and its impact on deforestation and forest degradation.
The EU timber market is one of the world’s largest and it is estimated that 20% of wood products sold in EU territories are of illegal origin.
There will also be stricter rules on tracing the origins of timber, giving consumers more assurance on the source of the products they buy. MEPs defended this approach during the negotiations as being more reliable than a labeling system.
According to data collected by Parliament, deforestation is proceeding at a pace of 13 million hectares per year and is responsible for almost 20% of CO² emissions. There is also the impact on indiginous people and the economies of developing countries.
The fight against illegal logging will profit "the environment and development" and with this gesture the EU sends a clear signal to the world that "the EU will never market to illegally harvested timber," said Commissioner Environment, Janez Potocnik
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