Penalties for illegal timber trade ‘at advanced stage’, Coveney says
New legislation specifying a range of penalties for anyone infringing the EU’s timber regulation is ‘at an advanced stage’, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, has said. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
New legislation specifying a range of penalties for anyone infringing the EU’s timber regulation – designed to reduce illegal logging in tropical rainforests – is “at an advanced stage”, Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has said.
He was replying to parliamentary questions from John Halligan TD (Ind, Waterford) and Richard Boyd Barrett TD (People Before Profit, Dún Laoghaire), who had asked what steps were being taken in Ireland to implement the EU regulation.
An international environmental lawyers’ group, Client Earth, said the Government had been given more than two years’ notice to put in place appropriate measures.
Despite the recession, it pointed out that Ireland “continues to consume a huge amount of timber and timber products”, with €510 million worth of sawn timber (201,000 cubic metres) and pulp and paper (437,000 cubic metres) imported in 2011.
The EU regulation, which came into force on March 3rd last, seeks to address the serious consequences of logging by preventing illegal timber from entering the EU market, as well as increasing demand for wood from sustainably managed forests.
Illegal logging is estimated to account for 15 to 30 per cent of the global timber trade and 50 to 90 per cent of the volume of all timber production in the Amazon Basin, central and west Africa and south-east Asia. The value of this trade could be as high as €75 billion.
“From musical instruments to wood in construction, Irish producers and consumers are at significant risk of buying illegal timber,” Client Earth said, adding that failure to implement the EU regulation meant that “illegal timber can continue to be placed on the Irish market”.
It said the Government was to have notified the European Commission by June 3rd of the “competent authority” to implement the EU regulation in Ireland. “Minister Coveney has thus far failed to do this”, it added.
The Minister said he had charged officials in the Department of Agriculture’s international forest policy section, in co-operation with the forestry division, with carrying out a number of functions, as Irish “competent authority”, under the EU timber regulation.