EU accused of using illegal rainforest timber

The European Union has been accused of using illegal Indonesian timber in its new buildings.

Greenpeace claims its investigators have discovered Indonesian rainforest plywood supplied by companies known to have been trading in illegally logged timber. The group says the plywood was found in the Berlaymont - home of the EU - and the Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) building.

Campaigner Andy Tait said: "The EU is responsible for trashing the last rainforests of Indonesia. These rainforests should be home to orang-utans and tigers, not Brussels bureaucrats in plush offices."

He added that the EU must clean up its timber buying if the forests are to have any future.

The European Commission has denied the allegations.

A Commission spokesperson told edie that they had been assured that only approved wood had been used and that they would be asking the contractor to investigate.

If true, the allegations would be an acute embarrassment for the EU. Last year the Commission launched its own action plan to combat illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber. Part of this action plan was to implement a public procurement policy to guide contracting authorities on how to deal with legality of supply in timber procurement procedures.

Last summer the UK government was also accused of using illegally logged timber in the construction of the new Home Office building (see related story).

Fifty activists entered the ECOSOC building to try and halt construction while others tried to replace the alleged rainforest wood with timber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

An area the size of Belgium is destroyed in Indonesia's rainforest every year. It is the fastest disappearing of all the world's rainforests.

By David Hopkins



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