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European forest-based industries call on the extension of the scope of the EU Timber Regulation to ensure that wood-based products sold on the European market are safe from illegal logging regardless of their origin.
Ms. Elżbieta Bieńkowska
European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Mr. Karmenu Vella
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Ms. Cecilia Malmström
European Commissioner for Trade
The EU Timber Regulation (995/2010/EU) is one of the key measures of the European Union to combat illegal logging. It aims to prevent wood and wood-based products that derive from illegally logged forests to enter the European market.
Wood and a large part of wood-based products are already covered by the Regulation. The European forest-based industries, as operators or traders under the Regulation, have already put in place the required due diligence systems for the wood or wood-based products that they are placing on the European market.
Regrettably, several wood-based products are not yet in the scope of the Regulation. Millions of euros worth of wood-based products are therefore still entering the European market without any assurance on their legality.
This not only creates a significant environmental loophole in the Regulation but it also distorts competition between wood-based products produced in the European Union with compliant raw material and wood-based products produced outside the European Union which can be freely imported and placed on the European market regardless of the origin of the raw material.
The EU Timber Regulation helps to secure legal sourcing of products sold on the European market. Illegal logging blemishes the reputation of the forest-based industries and the image of wood-based products. It is not acceptable that the reputation of European companies is tarnished because of illegally sourced imported products put on the European market. Moreover, it is important that European consumers can trust that any wood-based products found on the European market have been sourced legally.
The European Union should ensure that wood-based products on the European market are safe from illegal logging regardless of their origin. We therefore call on the European Commission to revise without further delay the scope of the EU Timber Regulation and extend it to wood-based products, such as printed matter, which are so far not covered.
Additionally, we invite the European Commission to include under the scope of the EUTR regulation tree like products, such as bamboo, whose illegal sourcing and extraction is causing deforestation and environmental degradation.
Furthermore, the European Commission should coordinate more consistent enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation.
We thank you for your consideration and remain at your disposal for further discussions on this matter with you or your respective services.
Europe is one of the most forest-rich regions in the world - we are surrounded by 190 million hectares of forests, which makes it 40 % of Europe's territory. European forest cover increases regularly, contributing to growth and jobs in rural area, ensuring wood and ecological services provision.
The bioeconomy covers the sustainable supply of renewable resources, services and their conversion, as well as the conversion of waste streams into food, feed, fibres, materials, chemicals and bioenergy.
Biorefineries being an essential part of the bioeconomy, are industrial installations that provide products from renewable, natural resources, replacing fossil-based products.
“The European paper industry stands firmly committed to sustainably sourcing and efficiently using bioenergy in Europe and is encouraged that negotiators have equally recognised this in the informal REDII agreement" says Sylvain Lhôte, Director General of CEPI. "What is lacking however is that there are no robust safeguards against subsidies that encourage the burning of wood and thereby distort the raw material markets that feed Europe’s bioeconomy. We now urge Member States not to backtrack on their bioecomomy ambitions when designing their bioenergy policies for the next decade”.
On the occasion of the United Nations International Day of Forests and dedicated to “Forests for Sustainable Cities”, representatives of European forest owners, managers and forest-based industries call for more awareness and support to further use the potential of European forests to contribute to a sustainable future.
Forests play a crucial role in providing multiple benefits for citizens. They deliver forest products and many other ecosystem services (recreation, clean air and water, biodiversity, scenic and cultural values…). Wood is a renewable raw material used in construction, furniture, pulp and paper, as well as for energy. It also serves as a substitute for non-renewable raw materials and energy. Moreover, forests contribute to job creation and economic growth.
In this context, EU forests have the potential to keep– and possibly increase – their contribution to these needs in the coming years. On average, 60% of the annual growth of EU forests is harvested, leading to a regular and significant increase in wood resources.
In the current discussion at EU level, several policies (research and innovation, rural development, climate and energy) and strategies (Forest Strategy, Bioeconomy Strategy) provide opportunities to enhance sustainable and multifunctional forest management while supporting the development of innovative bio-based value chains.
Piotr Borkowski, Executive Director of EUSTAFOR, and Fanny-Pomme Langue, Secretary General of CEPF, highlight that “There is still an important unexploited potential in terms of the wood and non-wood products and services provided by European forests. EU policies should contribute to unlock this potential so as to better meet existing and future demands. However, it should be stressed that sound economic prospects are essential in order for European forests to meet the growing social and environmental demands which are also being made on them”.
According to Sylvain Lhôte, Director General of CEPI, the European association representing the pulp and paper industry, “The EU should balance its target setting and demand-side approach with measures to increase supply. These measures should secure and improve forest growth and mobilise more wood from European forests for all kinds of uses“.
Patrizio Antonicoli, Secretary General of CEI-Bois highlights: “Forests and wood-based products play a central role in climate-change mitigation. This year’s theme of the UN International Day of Forests furthermore offers the opportunity to highlight the high potential contribution of timber building systems and wood construction materials.”
The undersigned organisations highlight the importance to better acknowledge and coordinate existing EU and national forest-related legislation which are already in place, which safeguard sustainable and multifunctional forestry and which are additionally supported by voluntary systems certification schemes. This is essential in ensuring the long-term competitiveness of the sector.
The International Day of Forests 2018 is taking place at a moment when EU policies have an opportunity to demonstrate how to enhance the potential of European forests and better mobilise their resources to further benefit society. This is an opportunity worth seizing.
“The LULUCF agreement is a good deal that not only provides the right flexibilities but builds on the sustainable forest management practices that work and continue to grow EU forests” says Sylvain Lhote, Director General of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI)