But what does this all mean and why should the Average Joe Bloggs care?
We all want nice furniture for our home; a wooden dining table, wooden flooring etc, but how often do you question where the wood has come from? Have you considered how your dining table came to be? From forests, often in Asia or South America, to timber factories; into Europe and the shop floor and finally into your home? A very rough analogy would be; did you question buying chicken breasts from your supermarket before Jamie and Hugh highlighted the terrible conditions of chicken farms?
There is a story behind every piece of wood furniture; millions of people world-wide rely on forests for their livelihood. Illegally sourced wood directly and dramatically affects many of these communities, EIA’s work in Indonesia highlights just one area of exploitation. The core issue behind illegal logging is corruption, and the illegal trade in timber involves major criminal syndicates. Consumers in the UK have spent up to £700 million a year on timber and wood products that we believe are illegally sourced.
And ultimately illegal logging destroys bio-diversity. The most extreme examples of illegal logging are taking place in the last remaining areas of primary forest.
EIA’s campaign originally focused on the Orang-Utan but you cannot save this iconic primate without protecting its habitat – habitat that is disappearing fast.
Why does this affect you?
The US and Europe are the largest consuming markets for these wood products, 20% of the wood that currently enters the EU is illegally sourced, 7% for UK specifically. Our demand for these products drives the trade (WWF; 2007). This new law directly addresses the rogue traders and criminals involved in the illegal timber trade.
You will soon be able to ask the supplier where the wood furniture has come from. Because of the new law, they will be required to ensure they have information of where the timber was harvested.
Last week the EU voted heavily in favour of this law, however it will take two years before it is implemented fully. EIA will now work with the European Commission and member states, including the UK government, to thrash out the details. Penalties need to be high to ensure it deters further illegal activity. This law will make the trade more transparent, one of EIA’s goal, so that in future when we ask where is it from, suppliers will be obiligated to know.
Our mindset to obtain exactly what we desire, prepared, flatpacked, even skinned and seasoned for us (when it comes to chicken!) at a cheap price, without questioning how it came to fruition is ultimately at the root of the problem.
This law and similarly the Lacey Act in the US, both of which EIA have led the way, is a step in combating this crime. Changing your mindset is up to you.
“There is no silver bullet in stopping the illegal trade in timber but this is a good first shot” – Faith Doherty.
EIA campaigner, Faith, has been personally working on this campaign and last week’s vote is a culmination of ten year’s hard work. Whilst investigating the trade ten years ago in Indonesia, she and her colleague were kidnapped and tortured by timber barons for exposing illegal logging. Her personal story is compelling read her interview at mongabay.com our own video with Faith will be on the homepage soon eia-international.org