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EU President implicated in Forest Crimes

EU President implicated in Forest Crimes: Greenpeace reveals connections with illegal logging scandal

Amsterdam – 19 September 2006: *A Greenpeace International report released today reveals how illegally logged timber from Russia is being freely imported into Finland to factories including those of Stora Enso, which is partly owned by the Finnish State.

In its report/ ‘Partners in Crime: A Greenpeace Investigation into Finland’s Illegal Timber Trade with Russia’/, Greenpeace has documented wide-spread illegal logging in the Russian Republic of Karelia.(1) During undercover field research between June and August 2006, campaigners witnessed timber being harvested in violation of Russian forest and environmental laws,(2) then transported across the border to be processed by industry giants UPM and Stora Enso. Products from these mills are exported throughout Europe and beyond, as far away as Japan. Customers of these mills include liquid packaging manufacturers, such as Tetra Pak and Elopak.

“Finland can no longer distance itself from the laundering of illegal timber. As President of the EU, it is the government’s duty to support effective EU-wide legislation that ensures legal and sustainable sourcing of wood products in Europe. Instead, Finland is allowing the EU to serve as a clearing house for the spoils of forest crime,” said Sue Connor, Greenpeace International campaigner.

The European Commission promised to propose options for legislation to combat the import of illegal timber into Europe, aimed at filling the gaps of an earlier voluntary programme, but has, to date, failed to deliver. Finland has so far put economic interests before forest protection, claiming that industry-led voluntary measures are sufficient to control timber trade, while the evidence provided in the Greenpeace report makes it clear that these are inadequate.

“With no EU legislation prohibiting illegal timber being circulated through European markets, consumers are unwittingly forced to be accomplices in forest crimes. We urge them to join us in demanding strong EU wide legislation,” said Sebastien Risso, Greenpeace EU Policy Officer.

Greenpeace is one of 180 NGOs and over 80 progressive businesses calling for effective EU-wide legislation to ban illegal timber and to ensure that all timber products on the market come from responsibly managed forests.(3)

Ends

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