G8 weak on illegal logging, say campaigners

The G8 countries have made moves to protect Africa from illegal logging and climate change, but grassroots organisation Greenpeace claims that Ministers are still not doing enough.

Apart from being totally unsustainable, illegal logging can have a variety of environmental implications, including habitat destruction and increased numbers of landslides, and logging activities in the Congo Basin have been of particular concern over recent months (see related story).

Following the G8 environment and development meeting in Derbyshire this week, Ministers agreed to tackle both the supply and demand of illegally logged timber by:

  • Taking steps to halt the import and marketing of illegally logged timber through measures such as border control and voluntary bilateral agreements
  • Doing more to support developing countries’ own efforts to enforce forest law and improve governance
  • Using government procurement to ensure that governments did not contribute to the problem of illegal logging, and
  • Reviewing progress on these commitments next year

    “Illegal logging is a problem shared by those producing and exporting timber and timber products and those that import them,” UK secretary of state for international development Hilary Benn stated. “Tackling illegal logging will enable the poorest countries to manage their forests better, reduce poverty and protect natural resources.”

    “It does not make sense to give development assistance on the one hand while importing cheap illegal timber on the other.”

    However, Greenpeace has claimed that the G8 Ministers have failed to commit to adopting legislation to prohibit the import of illegal timber and wood products into their countries, despite a very strong call by NGOs, industry and research institutions.

    Spokesperson for Greenpeace International Nathalie Rey said that the proposals only outlaw illegal wood, ignoring the huge impact that legalised but unsustainable logging has on the world’s forests and the millions of people that rely on them for their livelihood.

    “The G8 is once again proving its value as a talking shop rather than a forum for taking urgently needed action,” she warned. “The world’s ancient forests cannot rely on half-hearted voluntary measures, and the G8 is failing to deliver.”

    “While we welcome their recognition of the problem and the re-commitment to existing political agreements, this is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.”

    By Jane Kettle

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