The European Timber Regulation (EUTR) remains a “highly relevant” tool in the fight against the trade in illegal timber and has the “potential to achieve its objectives”, according to a report commissioned by the European Commission.
The EUTR, which is aimed at stopping illegally-sourced timber or timber products being sold in the EU, came into force in March 2013. The report, released on 18 February, concluded that progress had been made in its first two years, but “consistent efforts are needed from both Member States and the private sector before an effective and efficient application can be achieved.”
Sanctions for infringements are “highly divergent” among EU members, the report said, while insufficient resources had been allocated for it to be enforced effectively.
According to the review, the EUTR’s tangible achievements include raising awareness of the problem of illegal timber among consumers, and encouraging more responsible sourcing policies. This showed the EUTR’s “potential to change market behaviour and establish supply chains free of illegally-harvested timber”.
In a blog responding to press coverage of the report, Fern campaigner Lindsay Duffield said: “The EUTR is a valuable instrument which, as part of a comprehensive approach, has the potential to simultaneously improve the state of the world’s forests, and the lives of those who rely on them.”
In a letter in the Guardian newspaper, the editor of the Timber Trade Journal, Mike Jeffree, said: “It’s small wonder that, after just three years, it remains a work in progress. But the timber industry acknowledges this and, notably via the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) is urging improved implementation.”
A new EUTR guidance document, issued on 12 February, is a first step towards this.
Image: Marc Vandenhaute for EU FAO FLEGT Programme