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Volume 684: debated on Tuesday 25 July 2006

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

From which countries illegally felled timber is imported into the United Kingdom; what, in each case, is its value; and what action they are taking to stop that trade. [HL7109]

We are unable to give a value to the timber imports identified as illegally felled that enter the UK as timber imports are not identified as legal or illegal at ports of entry.

The UK Government take the trade in illegally felled timber very seriously and are taking a range of actions to address it. The EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation adopted last year enables member states to enter into partnership agreements with developing countries and provide them with assistance to tackle illegal logging. This assistance will include a licensing system designed to identify products as legal and license them for export to the EU. It will be reinforced by powers for HM Customs to take a range of actions relating to unlicensed products from partner countries; this will allow member states to prohibit the import of illegal timber from those countries into the EU for the first time.

The UK Government recognise that government purchasing policies can also send a strong signal to the market and timber suppliers. Since 2000, the UK Government have committed central departments to seek to procure products made from timber that has been legally harvested and grown in a sustainably managed forest or plantation.

At the international level, the UK is also working with other major timber-consuming countries. Most recently, this has included following up G8 commitments to tackle illegal logging made at the G8 environment and development ministerial in 2005, and establishing a joint working group on forestry with China.