Amsterdam, July 1, 2013 – Greenpeace has found an illegal shipment of endangered wood from the Democratic Republic of Congo at a veneer-processing factory in the Czech Republic run by the controversial Swiss timber group Danzer.
Under the new European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) that came into force in March, it is prohibited to place illegal timber on the EU market and operators are required to minimize the risk of illegal timber entering their supply chains.
“We are calling on the Czech authorities to immediately seize this illegal wood and start an investigation into Danzer’s operations,” said Petr Kucka, campaigns director with Greenpeace Czech Republic. “The law is clear: trading illegally-harvested timber in Europe is strictly prohibited.”
The Wengé wood shipment from the Bakri Bois Corporation (BBC) arrived at the port of Antwerp in Belgium on April 24. Two months later Greenpeace discovered the logs were at the veneer factory Danzer Bohemia Dýhárna in Horní Pocaply, Czech Republic.
The Danzer Group was recently disassociated from the certification system the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for involvement in human rights violations in the DRC following a complaint from Greenpeace.
“If any governments in the EU turn a blind eye to illegal imports, the forest destruction in areas including the Congo Basin will continue to be driven by our use of wood and associated products,” said Danielle Van Oijen, forests campaigner with Greenpeace Netherlands. “These forests are vital to help regulate our planet’s climate and to preserve biodiversity and the livelihoods of millions of people.”
On April 9, a few weeks after the EUTR entered into force, Greenpeace discovered an illegal cargo of CITES-listed Afromosia wood from the DRC that was released to be commercialized on the Belgian market despite evidence the timber could not be proven legal.
The Wengé wood found in the Czech Republic bears the marks of the BBC concession contract in Equateur province that is classified illegal by the DRCs EU-funded independent forest observer Resource Extraction Monitoring, whose reports are approved by the DRC government.
In a field mission to the logging area in Equateur earlier this month, Greenpeace Africa found that the company had allegedly violated its social contract and was involved in logging massive amounts of Wengé under an illegal artisanal logging permit. Wengé is an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list.