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    “Belgium not fighting illegal tropical wood trade”

    Belgium is not firm enough when it comes to EU regulations regarding wood, and the result is that suspicious tropical wood is still coming into the country. This is the conclusion of a recent study by the NGO Greenpeace in Cameroon. The organisation is asking authorities to take serious measures to limit the trade in illegal tropical wood.

    According to Greenpeace, 5 Belgian companies (Callens, Decolvenaere NV, Firma CRAS NV, Group Thys and  Vandecasteele Houtimport) are involved in trading wood from Cameroon’s company CCT, which sources its wood from companies involved in illegal logging operations. Greenpeace reckons that the risk of tropical wood from this source being illegal is too great. “Cameroon control mechanisms are greatly lacking,” points out the NGO as well.

    “The federal Environment ministry (Public Health, Food and Environmental Safety) and Minister Marghem must do their job,” points out Sebastien Snoeck, from Greenpeace Belgium. “‘Risky’ CCT wood should be seized during investigations and European rules on wood trade should be implemented by all parties involved. Importers must end their contracts with CCT until the legality of its operations is demonstrated. And if it is proven that they have been negligent in estimating and limiting the risk of illegality, they should be sanctioned.”

    No Belgian company has been sanctioned on the basis of the European legislation on wood up to now, in spite of Greenpeace regularly asking for a serious look at importers. The organisation is hoping Belgian authorities “will act seriously at last and announce clear measures before the September 21st cabinet meeting organised by Marie-Christine Marghem to discuss illegal wood trade.”

    Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)