Thank you for contacting me with regard to illegal and unsustainable timber and the related WWF UK campaign.
I appreciate your concern about this important issue and I know that organisations including WWF UK have called for stronger action to ensure the timber market is more sustainable.
The previous Labour Government had a strong record on the environment and climate change and was one of the first countries to place an obligation on Government bodies to purchase legal and sustainable timber. The previous Labour Government was also a strong supporter of additional legislation within the EU for a ban on illegally logged timber and was actively involved in developing Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) between the EU and timber producing countries. VPAs aim to help stop illegal logging by driving improvements in the regulation and governance of the forest sector.
As I am sure you are aware, the EU Timber Regulation came into force in 2013 and prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market for the first time. During the last Parliament, the Coalition Agreement believed the EU regulation, combined with the VPA process, was sufficient to help eradicate illegal timber from the UK market and support global efforts to tackle illegal logging and deforestation. However, as you know, the regulation only applies to timber when it is placed on the market and if illegal timber is already on the EU market, it is legal to buy or sell it.
It is important therefore that the EU look at this issue and any further action that is needed. Indeed, the European Commission recently held a consultation on the effectiveness of the EU Timber Regulation, which closed on 3 July and a report will be submitted to the European Parliament in December. The current Government state it has recommended the scope of the EU Timber Regulation should be increased to cover a wider range of timber and timber products. I believe we must await the outcome of the European Commission's review and the Government's response but I hope the UK Government will press for improved implementation of the EU Timber Regulation across the EU.
I have already signed Early Day Motion 65 as I believe a global agreement is needed to halt biodiversity loss and protect the world's remaining forests and I can assure you I will press the Government to push for strong international action to tackle the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber and end deforestation.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.
Karen Buck MP