Russian mercenaries with close ties to President Vladimir Putin and a logging contractor exposed for funding African rebels help feed a barely-regulated European timber rush in one of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries, according to a new report by Earthsight.
New evidence shows that an obscure company reportedly controlled by the Russian Wagner paramilitary group supplied timber to European consumers. The trade embroils a firm listed on London’s AIM stock exchange that was part of a national delegation at the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow.
Over the past ten years, Belgian imports of tropical sawn timber from non-EU countries have more than doubled. Last year, this amounted to more than 234,000 tons, writes de Tijd, nearly half of all imports into the EU. The vast majority, that is, eighty percent, is exported to other member states of the European Union. The wood mainly comes from three countries: Cameroon, Gabon and Brazil. These are high-risk countries when it comes to illegally harvested timber and corruption in the timber sector.
The Federal Public Service for the Environment employs inspectors who are responsible for checking 4,500 wood importers in our country. The inspectors were able to verify half of the 120 major importers. Since 2017, a maximum of thirty inspections have been carried out annually.
Almost half of all illegal tropical wood imported into the European Union is trafficked through Belgium, a new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), alongside De Tijd, Knack and Le Soir, has now revealed.
Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.
Click here to access the Cattle Data Tool.