Reading this online? Thanks. You can be sure that no trees have been hurt in the making of this blog.

Call me a tree hugger? Well if you must. I’m definitely not a hippy but I have been taken aback, during research Progressio Ireland carried out last month, on the importance of trees for the water we drink, the air we breath and especially for the poorest in our planet.

The UN estimates that 1.2 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods and survival and that about 20% of total global CO2 emissions is caused by deforestation.

The focus of Progressio Ireland’s recent research was on illegal logging, a black market trade that destroys the environment and the lives of millions of poor people every year.

Released on the 14th April, Progressio’s research has stirred up quite a bit of discussion here. We have discovered that just 3% of printers and 6% of timber distribution outlets in Ireland are certified. In response to the research the Sunday Tribune has said that Ireland is “top in the EU for import of illegal timber”.

Progressio’s research is the first to examine the extent of certification in the Irish timber market. At the present time certification is the only way to ensure that the timber and paper products we buy are legal and sustainable.

The extent of the lack of certification in the Irish market was referred to as staggering in the Irish Examiner. This newspaper contrasted the situation in Ireland with that of the UK where more than 80% of timber and panel products consumed is certified.

Part of our reasoning in carrying out this research is to put pressure on the timber industry in Ireland to certify. In the report Progressio calls for the industry in Ireland to take certification more seriously and at least allow consumers the choice of legal and sustainable wood products when selecting wood derived products.

Unfortunately in the short term at least, because there are so few certified suppliers in Ireland, consumers will find it difficult to exercise a choice in favour of certified timber. Unfortunately too, in the short term at least, Irish importers and timber consumers will be adding to the problem of global warming and the destruction of the environments of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.

Download the full Progressio Ireland report: Controlling Illegal Logging: Why the private sector must play its part .

Emmet Bergin is Advocacy Officer for Progressio Ireland