World Forest Day: 5 to 12 for the rainforests?

Pro Wildlife calls for trade freeze for illegally cleared timber

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According to the FAO, 13 million hectares of forest are cut down every year, especially in Latin America, Central Africa and Southeast Asia a large part of which is illegal. The environmental protection organization Pro Wildlife pointed this out on the occasion of today's World Day of the Forest and at the same time called for a trade stop for illegally cleared timber.

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"The next few months offer unique opportunities to tackle the fatal exploitation of forests worldwide. We call on the EU to finally live up to its responsibility as an important sales market and to set the right course, "emphasized Sandra Altherr of Pro Wildlife. As the EU contemplates discussions on a possible ban on illegally logged timber imports, the forthcoming Washington Convention on Biological Diversity (WA) in June in the Netherlands will make concrete decisions on international trade restrictions on eleven tropical wood species - more than ever before.

According to Pro Wildlife, much of the land clearing worldwide violates national regulations in the country of origin - for example 94 percent in Cambodia, up to 80 percent in Brazil and Honduras, 70 percent in Gabon - but without consequences: "As long as the sales markets import illegally beaten wood tolerate, promote the extermination campaign against the last primeval forests, "criticized Altherr. So far, there are hardly any binding international regulations on timber trade.

The EU is currently discussing various options to define concrete steps to protect rainforests through its Forest, Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT). The options range from voluntary self-inspections of the timber industry to an import, trade and possession ban for illegally felled timber. Pro Wildlife and other conservation organizations are pushing for this latter option: "Only a binding and strict law can prevent the EU from becoming a hub and market for illegally harvested tropical timber. Everything else would be waste, "says Altherr. display

Bows for strings

Pro Wildlife is looking forward to the upcoming WA conference from June 3 to 15, 2007 in The Hague, The Netherlands. There is a first worldwide underfoot position of eleven tropical tree species tuned - Brazil wood, Honduras rosewood, two types of cocobolo and seven types Cedro.

"Cedro is the most valuable wood in international trade after mahogany. Since the protection of mahogany, the previously unprotected Cedro has been ruthlessly cut down, "says the pro wildlife expert. Brasilwood is used for the production of high quality bows for string instruments, Honduras rosewood for the production of guitars and violins. If it is possible to have the eleven tropical woods protected, exports can only take place if they are proven to be legal and sustainable.

According to the species protection organization, protecting the species would also mean that international trade would for the first time be recorded and regulated. "We hope that all eleven tropical woods will be protected. For as long as the EU does not otherwise regulate the trade in tropical timber, the WA is the only way to counter the depletion of endangered species, "concludes Altherr.

(Pro Wildlife, 21.03.2007 - DLO)