The Environmental Investigation Agency in cooperation with Agent Green has just released their latest report on illegal logging activites by the Austrian timber company Schweighofer. Europe’s last remaining virgin forests are being illegally logged and sold to consumers throughout Europe as bio-fuel and lumber by the continent’s largest retailers. The eastern European country of Romania, which contains two-thirds of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests, also home to the continent’s largest populations of wolves, bears, and lynx, is now overrun by foreign companies taking advantage of its timber resources. Of those, the Austrian timber and wood processing company named Holzindustrie Schweighofer (Schweighofer) has taken the greatest advantage of all, and now processes around 40% of the country’s total annual softwood production4 including large amounts of illegal wood. (Abstract of the EIA report) Schweighofer sells their pellets, briquettes and timber products to nearly every European Union (EU) member state, 21 in total. Its customers include Europe’s top biomass companies such as Austrian firms Genol and Drauholz, and some of Europe’s largest DIY (“Do-It-Yourself” home improvement) stores, including Hornbach (Germany), Baumax (Austria/Germany), and Bricostore (owned by UK-based Kingfisher).
WWF Austria announced last week that they have filed an official EUTR complaint with the Austrian Research Centre for Forests (Bundesamt für Wald) to investigate Schweighofer Holzindustrie. Europe has a new law, the EUTR, meant to stop the trade of illegal wood within the EU. How powerful are laws in the EU if they don`t stop the destruction of Europe’s own last virgin forests?
We call on policy makers, enforcement officials, companies, and consumers to stand up to prove that Europe is no longer open for business for illegal wood.