UK tops list of illegal timber imports, says WWF report

Activists claim garden furniture manufacturers run risk of using illegally imported wood

The UK is the biggest importer of illegal timber in Europe, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The WWF report, Failing the Forests: Europe’s Illegal Timber Trade, highlights that 2.2 million cubic metres of the UK’s annual 7.9 million cubic metres of imported wood is illegally logged. The WWF is calling for new EU-wide legislation to prohibit the importing of illegally logged timber, some of which it says has found its way into garden centres. Nathan Argent, forest campaigner for Greenpeace, said garden centres that use wood not certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for their garden furniture ranges run the risk of using wood that has been illegally imported. Greenpeace monitors the performance of garden retail centres in its Garden Furniture Report. The latest findings single out B&Q, which Greenpeace says is “leading the way and showing ongoing commitment” to the issue. Wyevale, which earlier this year was criticised for buying timber from Burma, is said to have “responded quickly to concerns and is doing all it can”. James Barnes, managing director of Dobbies, believes all wood at the 17-chain outlet is legally logged. He added: “There have been substantial strides towards FSC-certified sources in the past eight months.” The FSC oversees auditors who check that logging is sustainable. Sally Reed, marketing manager at Notcutts, confirmed that the proportion of FSC-certified wood will increase in 2006. She added: “FSC status is not as simple as it sounds — we have a furniture buyer who ensures we are doing all we can.” Argent also said Blooms of Bressingham had done more than most to combat the importation of illegal wood.

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