EU Timber Regulation

What is the EUTR

Since March 2013, the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) has imposed restrictions on the import of timber into the 28 member states of the European Union.

It applies to specific timber and timber products placed on the EU market whether logged in the EU or internationally, and applies even when timber products arrive in the EU via a processing country.

The key elements of the EUTR only apply to the companies which first place relevant products on the EU market (which for wood from outside the EU means importers), not companies further down the supply chain. There are two separate components:

  1. Prohibition
    Companies are prohibited from placing illegal timber or timber products on the EU market.
  2. Due Diligence
    Companies are also required to actively assess the risk that timber has been logged or traded illegally, before placing it on the market. In order to do so they are required to develop or use a due diligence system, that involves gathering information on timber they want to import, evaluating the probability that it is legal, and taking steps to mitigate the risk of importing illegal timber. A failure to carry out proper due diligence is an offence, even if the wood itself is not shown to be illegal.

Penalties for infringement of the EUTR vary between different EU countries but can include criminal prosecution, fines, and the seizure of timber.

How Can It Help You?

Implementation and enforcement of the EUTR has been slow, and as a result illegal wood continues to enter the EU. A huge opportunity exists to improve implementation and help shut down one of the largest global markets for stolen timber. Authorities in the EU are showing a growing willingness to act. In early 2016, for example, action was taken against companies in Sweden and Holland that were attempting to sell high-risk timber from Myanmar and Cameroon.

As the ability of enforcement authorities to react decisively improves, increasing the flow of evidence from timber-exporting countries can have greater impact. The due diligence component of the EUTR means that strong evidence of illegal logging in a particular country can deter traders from sourcing timber from it. Ultimately, this should encourage improvements in enforcement and forest governance in source countries, and help mitigate the devastating effects of illegal logging.