Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources

The UK has been one of the most proactive European countries in addressing illegal logging and the related trade, and of the five consumer countries studied, it scored highest in the assessment of laws, regulations and policies related to this issue.

The word 'Illegal' is seen on tree trunks as Greenpeace activists demonstrate against the illegal importation of timber. Photo: XAVIER LEOTY / AFP / Getty Images.Greenpeace activists demonstrate against the illegal importation of timber. Photo by Getty Images.

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

The United Kingdom has shown a strong response to the problem of illegal logging and related trade; of the five consumer countries studied, it scored highest in the assessment of laws, regulations and policies related to this issue.

The government played an active part in the development of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan and has subsequently been supporting the negotiation and implementation of voluntary partnership agreements with producer countries. The government has also been providing a significant amount of funding, through the Forest Governance, Markets and Trade Programme, to initiatives aimed at tackling the trade in illegal timber and improving forest governance.

The private sector in the UK has also been proactive, as reflected in the increase in the number of companies with chain-of-custody certification and in the amount of certified wood-based products on the UK market. A high level of media coverage 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 UK of timber-sector products likely to be illegal, currently estimated to comprise three per cent of the total. However, there has been a significant shift in the types and sources of high-risk products coming into the UK, 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 UK has been one of the most proactive European countries in addressing illegal logging and the related trade, further action could be taken. Cooperation with the Chinese government and its private sector would be beneficial. Systematic monitoring of the UK’s timber procurement policy is also required, and the efforts made to date to enforce the EUTR will need to be maintained.