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Risk Score
68.6
Risk Profile
Higher Risk
Conflict State
No
Log Export Restriction
Yes
Other Timber Export Restrictions
Yes
Import Regulation
No
Legality Risks Click for details on legality risks

On 24 February 2022 the Russian Federation launched an invasion of Ukraine. The political situation remains extremely volatile. The timber legality dashboard was drafted prior to the current conflict. 

  • Fraud and corruption have been historically a pervasive problem impacting the forest sector and the full timber supply chain from harvest to export. 
  • Reported rates of illegal logging in Ukraine vary considerably, reflecting the distinction between wood theft/illegal logging without papers and illegal logging with papers. 
  • High-profile investigations released in 2018 and 2020 by the NGO Earthsight report illegal logging associated with FSC- certified timber in Ukraine. FSC strongly denies Earthsight’s findings.
  • Enforcement remains limited in capacity. 
  • EU Member States have issued high alert warnings for illegal timber from Ukraine.
  • The political and legal context is evolving which makes the timber legality context fluid.

Read more by downloading the Ukraine Timber Legality Risk Dashboard here.

Latest Updates Click for latest news from Ukraine
April 26, 2024
How German Experts Help Ukraine Rebuild War-Torn Forests

The government of Ukraine, supported by Germany, plans to boost the production and exports of PEFC and FSC-certified timber in the western parts of the country, largely unimpacted by the war. It comes as the government announced in January plans to scale up timber production, build new forest roads, and stamp out corruption to make the industry more competitive in global markets. With Russia’s FSC certifications canceled, demand for certified timber in European markets is likely to be strong.

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April 22, 2024
FSC investigation into birch wood panels in China and Europe
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Assurance Services International (ASI) announce the launch of a new transaction verification (TV) loop on wood panels made out of birch in the larger Eurasian region. The objective of this TV loop is to identify and take action against instances of false claims or other violations of FSC requirements.
The scope of this Eurasia birch wood panels TV loop is: Geographic areas: China and central and eastern European countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine). Wood identification (ID) technologies: This tool will enable FSC to determine species, and compare the isotope profiles of samples collected from certificate holders included within the scope of this TV loop against a reference sample library that is managed by World Forest ID.
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April 10, 2024
Ukraine’s New Front: Russia is Circling Kharkiv’s Forest Assets Russian armed forces have targeted forests in and around the Kharkiv region to export timber and sell into Eurasian markets.

Almost 30% of Ukraine’s total forest area has been destroyed by conflict, with Russian armed forces logging Ukrainian forests and selling timber into global markets via “friendly countries.”

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April 8, 2024
Ukraine Crime Ring Hits Global Markets with Chornobyl Timber

Ukrainian crime syndicates are falsifying documents and selling deforested timber from within the Chornobyl exclusion zone, with syndicates converting the proceeds of crime into foreign currency, and using conflict and illegal logging to fuel an extensive criminal network.

 

Also reported on here: Smuggling of timber worth millions of hryvnias: five accomplices of an organized group are suspected | УНН (unn.ua)

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March 26, 2024
Investigation: Belarusian timber enters Poland under false documents, bypassing EU sanctions
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March 12, 2024
A framework for tracing timber following the Ukraine invasion

Scientists are using state-of-the-art tech to correctly trace the flow of timbers entering the EU from Russia and Belarus and have developed a new framework that policymakers can use to eliminate conflict timber worldwide.

 

Developing the world’s largest reference database for Eastern European timber species (BetulaFagusPinusQuercus) tailored to sanctioned products; scientists can correctly predict, with 82% accuracy, “false claims” coming from Russia as well as harvest locations “within 180 to 230 km of the actual location.”

 

 

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March 5, 2024
Belgium’s Russia Wood Mystery EU member’s door ajar to illegal imports

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, sanctions swiftly followed, including a total ban on Russian timber imports into the European Union (EU) from July 2022. Belgium, one of the staunched supports of the EU ban, has become a profitable destination for Russian wood. Using a forensic laboratory at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, inspectors determined that several wood shipments from Russia had arrived in Belgium. The number of fines imposed for illegal harvests almost tripled in 2023.
“But an impediment is a distinct lack of inspectors,” Wynant said. “There are now fewer than five timber inspectors working full-time in Belgium, but there are 4500 timber importers,”according to the article .

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March 1, 2024
War in Ukraine impacts on forest areas

The Ukrainian Embassy Malaysia reported on the ecological damage to Ukrainian forests. One-third of the countries forests are damaged, and illegal logging is rampant in national parks and reserves in areas occupied by Russian forces.

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January 28, 2024
As Russian Imports Surge, Uzbekistan Is Key to China’s Timber Silk Road Russia & Belarus exporters pile into Uzbekistan amid push to make the country a global hub for Central Asian trade.

Russia and Belarus are ramping up timber exports to Uzbekistan amid fears the former soviet state could act as a new trading post for conflict timber entering global timber supply chains.

 

It comes as Uzbekistan is spending billions on new rail, road and sea infrastructure, funded by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, forging new pathways for timber to infiltrate global supply chains.

 

Already, Uzbekistan is Russia’s second-largest importer of softwoods, with 480,000 cubic metres of timber (or 11% of its total imports) imported into the country every quarter – in what is a significant escalation in trade since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

 

It comes as Wood Central reported in July that a block of ten countries – including Uzbekistan as well as China, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan – is fueling a booming trade of conflict timber bypassing western sanctions.

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November 22, 2023
Russia & China Eyes Arctic Transhipment to Control Timber Supply

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the country’s relationship with China took on even greater significance. More than 83% of Russia’s timber export goes through Chinese supply chains, with China now Russia’s distribution point to global forest markets. 

 

Chinese shipping companies like the Shandong Port Group play a crucial role in Russia realising its Arctic transport  aspirations. The company includes four major seaports in the Chinese Shandong region and are looking for more.

 

Komi Governor Vladimir Uiba – who has strong ties to the failed Wagner group – is pushing to attract Chinese investment in forest processing. Komi is Russia’s second-largest state and is home to the Virgin Komi Forests – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest virgin forest in Europe.

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August 25, 2023
EU Investigates Possible Illegal Imports Of Russian Plywood

The European Commission is investigating potential illegal imports of Russian birch plywood products into the European Union. CELEX:32023R1649:EN:TXT.pdf (europa.eu)   There has been a significant increase in imports of Russian birch plywood into Turkey and possibly Kazakhstan, and an increase in exports of birch plywood from both countries to the EU—although neither has been a significant producer of birch plywood in the past. The EU banned Russian wood after Russia invaded Ukraine.

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June 30, 2023
How Russia’s timber trade is sidestepping the EU’s Ukraine war sanctions

ICIJ partners in Europe revealed the indirect trade routes used to mask the origins of Russian timber, which continues to flow into the EU despite being banned.

 

Paper Trail Media, Der Spiegel, ZDF and others analyzed trade data to trace the pathway of banned wood through third countries, including China, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

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April 13, 2023
After the invasion of Ukraine, Russia and some of its accomplices were repeatedly accused of stealing grain and agricultural land. Now Ukrainian officials say that Russia is also stealing the forest.
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April 12, 2023
Illegal transport of birch plywood from Russia to the EU market must be prevented

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, about 80% of all birch plywood globally was produced in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

 

After the fifth package of sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU finally entered into force in July 2022, the import of roundwood and wood products, including birch plywood, from Russia to the EU was banned. However, according to information and statistics obtained from the market, it seems that illegal Russian birch plywood continues to be imported to Europe from third countries.

This is reflected in increased imports of birch plywood from countries such as Kazakhstan and Turkey. Considering the production capacity of Kazakhstan, we can see that the country does not have sufficient birch plywood production to be able to deliver the volumes recorded in the statistics.

 

Illegal birch plywood travels to the European markets in many ways. The import ban is evaded by transit through a third country, for example. The third countries may also make minor changes to the plywood, after which the country where the changes were made is reported as the products’ country of origin. Another way is to use a false tariff heading so that the product is excluded from sanctions.

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April 12, 2023
Russia Stole Land and Grain. Now It’s Taking Timber, Ukraine Says. Officials say acres of forest have been cut down for commercial gain or to fortify defensive positions

Russia has been accused of engaging in industrial-scale logging in Ukraine, cutting down large swaths of trees for sale and to strengthen its defensive positions. In a letter to President Putin, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu requested permission to harvest timber and stated that “wood not used for defense will be sold to finance the military operation.”

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October 1, 2021
Over 40 people convicted of illegal logging in Ukraine this year

Forty-three organizers of illegal logging schemes, including high-ranking officials of state forestry enterprises, have been convicted in Ukraine since the beginning of this year, Ukraine’s SBU State Security Service has told Ukrinform.

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September 1, 2021
Emerging Europe’s perfect storm for illegal logging

A group of companies found to have illegally logged as many as 4mn trees in Siberian forests supplied furniture giant Ikea with wood for years, with a product likely to have contained the illegally sourced Russian wood sold every two minutes, according to the results of an investigation by environmental NGO Earthsight released in July.

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Inside Belarus Timber Dodge: 250,000m³ Floods Global Market

Sanctions breakdown as Belarussian timber exports surge 8-fold for the first three months of 2024.

 

Timber exports from the heavily sanctioned Putin-aligned state have exploded over the past 12 months, with more than 365,000 cubic metres of sawn wood traded into 15 “friendly nations” in the first three months of 2024 alone.

That is according to the government-backed Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange (BUCE), which reported that Belarus timber production was up eight times over the January to March quarter for 2023, with the total output of Belarussian timber reaching 748,000 cubic metres— including 49% traded into global markets via third-party Eurasian trading ports.

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Publications Click for publications related to Ukraine
Ukraine’s political context, including policies, institutional governance, and management of forests is rapidly evolving. Most information available to international audiences related to illegal activities in the forest sector has been driven by high profile investigations released in 2018 and 2020 by the NGO Earthsight. This includes allegations of illegal timber entering FSC-certified timber supply chains. […]
Key Resources
Click here for a collection of Forest Trends publications related to IDAT Risk, including the full set of Timber Legality Risk Country Dashboards.
Methodology
Click here to download the Methodology which includes information on data sources, the methodology used to create risk indicators, and a glossary of key terms.
Data Tools

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.

Export Restrictions
Click here to download a database of forest policy export restrictions.