Forest communities in the developing world that have been ravaged by the effects of illegal logging yesterday (4 May 2010) won the backing of the European Parliament after MEPs voted in favour of tough new legislation which could pave the way for an EU wide ban on illegal timber imports.
The result, which saw MEPs from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree to adopt new measures to help curb the illegal timber trade, worth an estimated £7.5 billion annually in lost assets and revenue, has been warmly welcomed by the development agency Progressio, its partners and campaigners, who along with others, have long been calling for tighter restrictions on wood entering the EU in a bid to halt illegal logging in countries like Ecuador and Honduras.
In a considerable step forward, activists say, MEPs voted to put an end to the practice of placing or making available illegally harvested wood on the EU market; for improved mechanisms to ensure illegal wood is monitored – and blocked – at all stages of the EU’s timber supply chain and for a raft of new measures to place penalties on rogue traders.
Progressio’s Advocacy Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, Lizzette Robleto commented: “We are pleased that EU parliamentarians are taking concrete steps to combat illegal logging with solid action to help put an end to this devastating trade. Today’s result is also a considerable boost to those who are already taking measures to ensure the timber they trade is legally harvested.”
Meanwhile, Xiomara Ventura, Progressio’s Country Representative in Honduras, which has faced its own battles against illegal loggers, added: “Here in Honduras, we have been fighting for many years to put an end to this practice which ruins lives and livelihoods, destroys ecosystems and contributes to global climate change.”
She continued: “By voting for bold regulation to ban the importing of illegal wood within the EU, parliamentarians have sent a strong signal to the gangs and illegal operators behind the timber trade that the EU will no longer tolerate a practice that ravages communities in the developing world. This is truly a victory for some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
Hundreds of Progressio supporters took part in an urgent email campaign to voice their support for strong and decisive action in today’s vote. In an online letter to MEPs, campaigners outlined their concerns and said the time had come for tough new regulation on timber imports.
The draft legislation will now be passed to the European Council ahead of a plenary vote in July 2010.
Progressio (www.progressio.org.uk) is an international charity with Catholic roots that enables poor communities to solve their own problems through support from skilled workers. It lobbies decision-makers to change policies that keep people poor, and was formerly known as the Catholic Institute for International Relations.