Pressroom  >  Press Releases  >  Regulating the Trade in Illegal Timber: Forest Trends Evaluates Recent Legislative Developments in the Republic of Korea

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The Republic of Korea is one of the ten largest consumers of timber, pulp and paper products. Korean leaders and citizens are increasingly aware of their global environmental footprint, including the deforestation caused by Korean consumption. With imports of timber products steadily increasing, the government of Korea made a commitment in 2012 to exclude illegal wood from the Korean market.

Recent standards issued by the government bring Korea closer to fully enacting its ban on illegal timber. The 2018 “Detailed Standards for Determining the Legality of Imported Timber and Timber Products” will support implementation of the Revised Act on Sustainable Timbers. The standards offer further clarity on the ways in which Korea is seeking to exclude illegal timber from the market.

Forest Trends’ new Information Brief synthesizes the latest available information on recent legislative developments in the Republic of Korea, and discusses the implications of Korea’s approach.


The newly effective “Detailed Standards for Determining the Legality of Imported Timber and Timber Products” are an important step towards reducing the volume of illegal timber on the Asian market.

“If robustly enforced, Korea will take regional leadership in reducing the global incentive for illegal logging,” explains Marigold Norman, Senior Policy Advisor to Forest Trends. “We can also expect to see positive impacts in terms of reducing deforestation and associated carbon emissions embodied in the timber products Korea imports from other countries.”

To be considered an effective and robust system, the current “Detailed Standards for Determining the Legality of Imported Timber and Timber Products” should be amended to improve their capacity to exclude illegal timber from the Korean market.

In its new Information Brief, Forest Trends proposes:

  1. Widening the regulated product scope to include fiberboard and particleboard. This would target products that previous research has flagged as high-risk for illegal harvest based on source country.
  2. Tightening standards for evidence of legality to exclude wood products presented with harvest permits which are not accompanied by an associated traceability or Chain of Custody certificate.

“Ultimately, the impact of the Korean law will depend not only on the legal requirements, but on effective implementation high level political support in Korea for a well-resourced enforcement plan and a willingness to change the way that businesses behave.” says Jade Saunders, Senior Policy Analyst at Forest Trends.