Catholics urged to help stop illegal timber entering UK and EU

Catholics have a unique chance to influence an historic vote in the European Parliament next week which could have a profound impact on some of the world’s poorest communities, international development agency Progressio says today.

Between 5-8 July, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will decide whether to stop illegal timber and timber products being imported into the UK and Europe. As the only UK development charity actively campaigning on the issue, Progressio hopes that its supporters will help sway MEPs’ views by writing to them directly to urge an outright ban on the trade.

“Illegal logging adds to the problems of forest communities in some of the world’s poorest countries,” says Xiomara Ventura, Progressio’s Regional Manager in Honduras. “Not only does it wreck the fragile environment in which many of these people live but it also weakens the rule of law.”

Next week’s vote is the latest attempt to adopt new legislation to stop the EU trade in illegal timber. Historically, a patchwork of voluntary regulations have allowed rogue traders to exploit the system with relative ease. The results are plain to see. Some 20 per cent of all illegal timber worldwide is imported directly into the EU; worth 3 billion euros a year. Although some efforts have been made to regulate the market, as yet there is no binding legislation that prohibits and sanctions the practice.

“At the moment there’s no way of knowing whether the wood in our kitchens or garden furniture comes from illegal sources”, says Daniel Hale, Progressio’s Campaigns Officer. “Strong EU timber legislation will ensure that, as consumers, we are given a guarantee that the wood we are buying does not line the pockets of unscrupulous rogue traders, who damage the lives of poor communities, in a practice fuelled by greed.”

He continues: “We Catholics need to stand in solidarity and say ‘no’ to illegal timber – if enough people speak out, together we could help effect real change for people in countries like Honduras.”

In recent years, Progressio has helped to strengthen national forestry laws in Honduras, providing improved protection for poor communities there. Putting a stop to the devastating European trade in illegal timber will represent a significant, further boost for many more forest dwellers who live under constant threat from loggers.

Progressio has been campaigning throughout the European legislative process, successfully targeting Caroline Lucas, leader of the UK Green Party and former MEP, and the new Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman MP.

Write to your MEP ahead of next week’s crucial vote!

Photo: David Amador, a small-scale farmer from Olancho, Honduras, holds a piece of illegally logged timber (photo © Omar Banegas/Progressio)

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information or to arrange an interview with Daniel Hale, Progressio’s Campaigns Officer, contact Jo Barrett on 07940 703911 or
  2. Download a high resolution image of a small-scale farmer who is living with the impact of illegal logging in Honduras.