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Benn warned of threat to UK woods
trade associations

27 April 2009

Benn warned of threat to UK woods

onFor warns Hilary Benn of potential danger to UK woods, as European Parliament approves substantive amendments to draft legislation.

“We advised the Secretary of State that legislation targeting timber importers would, as drafted, apply equally to UK woodland owners”, said ConFor chief executive Stuart Goodall. “If MEPs are successful in extending the scope and requirements in the legislation, then it will undermine the responsible management of smaller woods in the UK, damaging biodiversity and threatening businesses.”
ConFor, along with the Timber Trade Federation, WWF and a range of environmental non-governmental organisations, met with Secretary of State Hillary Benn and Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies, on the same day that MEPs voted through over 70 amendments to a draft regulation intended to restrict the importation of illegal timber into the EU.
“We support the UK Government’s desire to act against imports of illegal timber, but it is important for ministers to be aware that the current draft regulation could have significant unintended consequences unless action is taken to avoid placing an unnecessary burden on UK forestry.”
The draft EU legislation targets operators who place timber on the market for the first time. While this captures timber traders importing timber into the EU, it would also include an owner of an acre of woodland in the UK who decided to sell a few logs perfectly legally.
“It is likely that the original Commission proposal would have been simple to comply with in the UK. However, as the conditions and requirements become more complex, it can quickly become a major disincentive to owners of woodland who will be deterred from managing their wood by yet more bureaucracy and cost”, added Stuart.
“In a country where illegally logged timber is not an issue, the UK could be required to introduce measures that will result in greater neglect of woodlands, damaging biodiversity and undermining related jobs and businesses – no one wants to see that.”