Van Velzen seeks end to dodgy wood imports: “If in doubt, keep it out”

28 March 2006

Van Velzen seeks end to dodgy wood imports: “If in doubt, keep it out”

SP Member of Parliament and environment spokeswoman Krista van Velzen is calling for the burden of proof of origin of imported wood to be reversed. If the importer cannot produce a recognised quality mark and supporting paperwork, the wood in question should not be approved for import. Explaining her proposal, Ms Van Velzen said: “We need to place the responsibility on the strongest party. This would help persuade importers to select wood from sustainable sources and reduce international demand for cheap garden benches for which rain forests are being illegally felled.”

As things stand, illegally felled tropical wood is crossing our borders unhindered. Enforcing the rules on this is, according to Environment Minister Cees Veerman, a difficult problem, in large part because the accompanying paperwork is often fraudulent.

"KristaVan Velzen says that she is unable to see the problem: “If you don't trust a shipment of wood, don't let it in. If in doubt, keep it out.” She is eager to know whether the minister will put this proposal into practice. .

“If enforcing the law is hard then the minister needs to do something about it,” says the SP's environment spokeswoman. “You have to ask yourself what's coming over the border in this fashion. Give the customs service more time and more resources so that it can do its job adequately. At the moment there's still some rain forest left. In a few years if all the minister does is sulk and shy away from this 'difficult problem', there'll be no more to save.”

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