UK illegal timber trade is slammed by report

Britain is the third biggest worldwide importer of illegal timber, according to a report by conservation group WWF

Campaigners are calling for a ban.
Campaigners are calling for a ban.

Britain is the third biggest worldwide importer of illegal timber, according to a report by conservation group WWF.

The report, Failing the Forests - the EU's Illegal Timber Trade, found that the UK is responsible for the destruction of around 600 million m2 of forest each year.

In total, Britain imports 3.2 million m3 annually, making it the biggest illegal importer in Europe, and the third largest in the world after China and Japan.

Importing illegal timber fuels the destruction of the world's forest and exacerbates poverty in some of the world's poorest countries, according to Andrew Lee, director of campaigns, WWF.

"The UK has made poverty a central plank of its EU presidency yet its consumption of illegal timber is robbing countries such as Cameroon and Indonesia of invaluable income. Large scale illegal logging often deprives local communities who rely on forests for their livelihoods, whilst big international companies reap the profits," he said.

Illegal timber is wood from trees felled against local regulations or exported without duty being added.

WWF reports that most of this timber comes through Russia and Scandinavia. The charity has called on ministers to press for European legislation to prevent the import of illegal timber.

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