Major Dutch timber company found in breach of European Timber Regulation

  • Dutch firm Boogaerdt Hout found in breach of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) for placing Burmese teak on EU marketplace
  • Case was submitted to Dutch authorities by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in October 2016
  • Ruling by the Dutch authorities follows similar outcomes in Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and the UK

 

LONDON: The Dutch Food and Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit, or NVWA) has found Dutch timber company Boogaerdt Hout to be in breach of the Due Diligence requirements of the EUTR.

The decision follows the submission of evidence by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

Boogaerdt Hout and one other unidentified company have been found guilty of illegally placing Burmese teak on the European market. A further two cases submitted by EIA – concerning World Wood and Gold Teak Holdings – are still being investigated by Dutch authorities.

Boogaerdt Hout now has a two-month grace period to put its house in order, after which it will be fined €20,000 per cubic metre for any further non-compliant Burmese teak it places on EU markets.

With the decision, The Netherlands joins Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and the UK as having ruled that teak imports from Myanmar as unable to comply with the EUTR. Cases submitted by EIA are still pending in both Italy and Spain.

Faith Doherty, head of EIA’s Forests Campaign, said: “Myanmar, with support from the EU, is currently engaged in the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative in an effort to combat illegal logging and the associated trade. Myanmar’s forests are in crisis, with a timber industry that has long been plagued by corruption and overharvesting.

“Two EU member states, Italy and Spain, are dragging their feet on enforcement and continue to allow clearly non-compliant timber to enter their markets. This is undermining support for reform in Myanmar and providing an uneven playing field for companies in EU countries that are enforcing the law.

“To support those who champion reform within the forestry sector in Myanmar, EIA is focused on EU-based operators who are aware of legal compliance within Europe but clearly think themselves above the law. They should know better.”

The Myanmar Forest Department has already announced its intention to reform, including new laws, in an effort to curb forest crime in the timber sector; the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) has also announced changes to its current system.

While these moves have been welcomed by EIA, more effort is needed to produce timber that can comply with the EUTR.

An immediate step forward for the MTE to demonstrate legality would be the publishing of all harvest plans, including harvest conditions and allowable cuts for each annual crop, and all post-harvest records.

This would allow independent monitoring of legality within Myanmar’s forests, making EUTR compliance much more likely.

 

Interviews are available on request; please contact :

  • Head of Forests Campaign Faith Doherty via faithdoherty[at]eia-international.org or telephone +44 20 7354  7960
  • Senior Forests Campaigner Jago Wadley via jagowadley[at]eia-international.org, or telephone +44 20 7354 7960

 

EDITORS’ NOTES

  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses. Our undercover investigations expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants and tigers, and forest crimes such as illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil; we work to safeguard global marine ecosystems by tackling plastic pollution, exposing illegal fishing and seeking an end to all whaling; and we address the threat of global warming by campaigning to curtail powerful refrigerant greenhouse gases and exposing related criminal trade.
  1. A media release from Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit is available in English from: https://english.nvwa.nl/news/news/2017/10/26/preventive-measure-issued-against-two-dutch-companies-for-breaching-the-rules-regarding-illegal-logging and in Dutch at https://www.nvwa.nl/nieuws-en-media/nieuws/2017/10/26/dwangsom-voor-2-bedrijven-wegens-overtreden-regels-illegaal-hout
  1. EIA has submitted 15 cases to authorities in six EU countries, focused on the placement of Burmese teak on the EU market. To date, at least 17 companies have been found guilty of breaching the EUTR when placing Burmese teak, and five of the EIA cases are still pending
  1. Boogaerdt Hout has received a €15,000 grant from the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition in recognition of its sustainable activities in Myanmar in May 2016, just one month after an initial inspection by the authorities found that Boogaerdt Hout’s Burmese teak was non-EUTR compliant.
  1. Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) is one of the governmental institutions under Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC), previously known as the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF). It is responsible for harvesting, sawmilling, downstream processing and marketing of timber.

 

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