25 November 2014

 While the Netherlands has been one of the most proactive European countries in addressing illegal logging and the related trade, a key challenge will be effective enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation given the country’s role as a major conduit for timber to the rest of Europe.


Duncan Brack

Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources


This paper is part of a broader Chatham House study which assesses illegal logging and the associated trade. 

The Netherlands has shown a strong response to the problem of illegal logging and related trade: the government played an active part in the development of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan, and has been supporting the negotiation and implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreements with producer countries.

The government has also been promoting the production and consumption of sustainable timber. It has a comprehensive procurement policy, established the Sustainable Trade Initiative and helped to launch the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition.

As a result both of these government actions and of promotion by the private sector, there is a high proportion of certified wood-based products on the Dutch market as well as a large number of companies with chain-of-custody certification. A high level of media coverage on the issue of illegal logging also indicates that there is widespread awareness of this issue.

This response is thought to be partly responsible for the decline in imports into the Netherlands of timber-sector products likely to be illegal, currently estimated to comprise two per cent of the total. However, there has been a significant shift in the types and sources of high-risk products coming into the country, reflecting changes in the global timber industry: a growing proportion is coming from China and comprises more highly processed products such as furniture.

While the Netherlands has been one of the most proactive European countries in addressing illegal logging and the related trade, further action could be taken. A key challenge will be effective enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation given the Netherlands’ role as a major conduit for timber to the rest of Europe. Systematic monitoring of its timber procurement policy is also required.