If you are looking for EIA UK, it's overhere.

South Korea Says "아니요" (No) to Illegal Timber

Last March, the government of South Korea passed momentous new legislation prohibiting the import of illegally-sourced timber. This built upon efforts over the past several years, during which Korean State Forestry officials attended regional and international policy and technical gatherings with increasing regularity to learn about other countries’ experiences regulating timber imports, and presenting Korea’s likely approach. Korea’s new law came into effect on October 1, 2018.

Eager to learn more details about the legislation and the government’s motives for enacting it, my colleague and I decided to take advantage of a trip to the region to meet with the Korean Rural Economic Institute (KREI), the Korean Forest Service (KFS), and the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM).

During our time in Korea, we learned that the Korean government appears to have undertaken this change because it is the right thing for environmental sustainability and for the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the industry. They studied global trends of countries regulating their timber trade—such as the US, the EU, Australia, and Japan–and determined that stopping the import and trade of illegal timber and wood products was important. Throughout the process, the Korean government consulted with researchers as well as the private sector, and determined that there was broad-base industry support. In the weeks following implementation, the forest service indicates that companies are actively engaged and eager to comply—sending in required declarations and calling with relevant questions.

The new law is comprised of a group of amendments to Korea’s existing Act on the Sustainable Use of Timbers, and is currently in a pilot phase slated to last one year. Korean importers must submit a declaration of a timber product’s species and origin, as well as documents proving the legal origin of the timber product to both Customs and the Forest Service. If there are no problems upon inspecting the documents, the Forest Service approves the goods for clearance. Otherwise, the Forest Service will undertake further investigation. We understand that the designated inspection agency--the Korean Forestry Promotion Institute—will conduct product sampling, to verify the declared species and other details included on declarations.

During this pilot phase, the law applies only to seven timber product categories: logs; sawn wood; plywood; wood pellets; and laminated, flame-retardant, and anti-decay wood. The government intends to continually assess the effectiveness of the system, and refine its inspection and approach.

The main weakness of this law is that the legality of the products is determined from documents. As EIA has found in numerous investigations, it is all too easy to obtain fake documents certifying legal harvest, purchase, or transportation, through bribery, forgery, or other chicanery. Aware of this weakness, KFS expects to consult with producer country governments in cases where there is suspicion of fraud. KFS also welcomes information that would help them to assess what products, species, and source countries pose particular risks of illegality.

EIA is happy to see Korea add its name to the growing list of countries saying “no” to illegal timber. Of course this law is brand new; its effectiveness remains to be seen. Still, based on our conversations and understanding of the legislation, the requirements are reasonably strong, and the government and other stakeholders seem to share a sincere intention to stop illegal timber. We’ll be paying close attention to the law’s implementation, and we wish Korea success!

View all Blog Posts

Recent Blog Posts

Not One More: Another Activist Silenced by Arrest in Madagascar
Christopher Magnenjiky was arrested for obscure and unjust reasons mid-May 2018
Pas un de plus: une autre voix pour la forêt réduite au silence à Madagascar
Pas un de plus: une autre voix pour la forêt réduite au silence à Madagascar

Recent Reports

New legal risks for Japanese timber sourcing from Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe’s Carpathian Mountains may seem remote for most Japanese, but lumber stolen from these ancient forests permeates Japan’s housebuilding sector. New reports from Romania and Ukraine reveal the extent of illegal logging, corruption, and bribery practiced by some of Europe’s largest wood processors.
東欧から日本への木材調達に 新しい法的リスク
東欧のカルパチア山脈は、日本人にとって縁遠いところに思われるかもしれないが、その太古の から盗伐された木材が日本の住宅産業のあらゆるところで使われている。ルーマニアおよびウクライナからの新しい報告で欧州最大手の木材加工業者による広範囲な違法伐採、腐敗、贈賄行為について明らかになった。

Recent Press Releases

Global Wildlife Treaty Bans Massive Illegal Timber Trade from Nigeria
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) commends the trade suspension on rosewood from Nigeria, agreed upon by the governing body of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES Standing Committee) at its meeting in Sochi and effective as of October 8, 2018.

Recent Videos

The 'S' Files
EIA's series of videos exposing Holzindustrie Schweighofer's involvement in illegal logging in Romania,
The 'S' Files, Case #3: Depot Deception
The latest in EIA's video series, The 'S' Files, Depot Deception shows that Holzindustrie Schweighofer, one of the largest timber companies in Europe, appears to be systematically...
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!
What are the HFC-free Technologies?
Widespread adoption of HFC-free technologies is cost-effective, energy efficient, and climate-friendly. Read EIA’s report Putting the Freeze on HFCs for hundreds of examples of HFC-free technologies available and in use today.
What are HFCs?
Help us mitigate climate destroying gases