Written Answers. - Import Regulations.

John Gormley

Question:

96 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the legislation which exists in relation to the importation of hardwood timber from tropical regions; if new legislation is being considered by the European Commission to govern the importation of timber from non-EU countries; the environmental obligations on third party countries required within current legislation for timber exporters; and his views on whether such controls are effective. [10857/03]

I would advise the Deputy that legislation governing the importation of endangered tropical and hardwood timber falls under the remit of my colleague Deputy Martin Cullen, Minister for the Environment and Local Government, who has responsibility for implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES.

Certain species of endangered tropical timber are among the 25,000 species of plants protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade. Ireland is one of 161 participating countries to the convention, which in our case was ratified by Government on 8 January 2002 and entered into force on 8 April 2002. CITES operates by subjecting international trade in selected species to certain controls which require that all import, export, re-export of species covered by the convention to a licensing system. In Irelands case the management authority in charge of the licensing system is Dúchas.

The forestry service of my Department is responsible for implementing the practical aspects of forest related plant health legislation. The Department of Agriculture and Food is the statutory authority for plant health and regulations are in place to prevent the importation into Ireland of pests and diseases of quarantine significance. In the case of the importation of hardwood timber from tropical regions my Department does not operate specific regulations as the pests and diseases which may be associated with tropical timber are currently not of quarantine significance for Ireland.
In support of the drive to combat the illegal harvesting, processing and trade in wood and wood products, the European Commission is well advanced in developing the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – FLEGT – action plan. The FLEGT process consists of discussion and co-operation between developed countries and emerging economies, particularly those who produce and consume-import wood and wood products. Reform and application of laws in wood-producing countries, governance considerations including management, capacity, enforcement, trade considerations and market access are covered.
The Commission's communication to the Council and the European Parliament – COM(2002)82 of 13 February 2002 – provides that the Union would develop an EU action plan on forest law enforcement, governance and trade to combat illegal logging and associated illegal trade and to strengthen international co-operation to address violations of forest law and forest crime. As Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, I fully support this positive initiative by the Commission.
Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 88.