If I import a lorry load of stolen bicycles, successfully slipping them through border control and into the country, I could still get into a lot of trouble with the police for being in possession of stolen goods. And rightly so. For every stolen good there is a crime that has been committed and a victim (yes, I’ve had a very nice Brompton stolen and I’m still bitter).
For every piece of paper, park bench and floorboard made from illegal wood there was a crime that took place and a multitude of victims. Wildlife dies, indigenous people lose their livelihoods, and all of us ultimately suffer the climate implications of reckless forest destruction.
Illegal timber is illegal, and possession of illegal timber should be illegal. It’s simple, they’ve done it in the US, and, just 9 months ago, both the Conservatives and the Liberals were planning on doing it here.
But from media reports it appears that the Government might be having second thoughts about this (see this article on the Guardian website). Apparently, making possession of illegal timber illegal would be bureaucratic and costly, and this would be inappropriate in these tough times.
Rainforests continue to be destroyed at an extraordinary rate across the world. The FAO estimate that about 13mn hectares are lost every year. This means that since this Government came into power, about 4.5 million hectares of rainforest have been destroyed worldwide. As well as an enormous loss for wildlife, this would have released over 4 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere – just over seven times the total emissions from the UK last year (2009).
Illegal logging is one driver of this, and turning a blind eye to those that make this a profitable activity is unjustifiable.