29 Sep 2010

SURVEY REVEALS WIDESPREAD IGNORANCE OF ILLEGAL TIMBER USE IN THE UK

A survey has revealed that 50% of consumers are unaware that the wood used in products on the UK market may have originated from illegal logging.

The TNS survey of over 1,000 people, carried out on behalf of WWF as part of their ‘What Wood You Choose?’ campaign, showed that half of consumers assumed that timber was legal or didn’t know if timber came from illegal sources.

Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF-UK, said: “If people buy any wood or paper products that aren’t certified then they could, unwittingly, be helping to fuel illegal and unsustainable logging activities across the globe. Buying FSC certified products is the only way to be certain that the interests of the forests, the species that live in them, and the people that rely on them to make a living are being considered.”

The survey also revealed that 75% of consumers believed that their buying choices could have an impact on people in developing countries.

However, only 28% were aware of FSC or the FSC logo and it’s significance when placed on products as a sign of timber that originates from sustainable and ethical sources.

Julia Young, WWF UK’s Forest and Trade Network Manager, said: “A lot of certified timber isn’t even sold as certified because the demand is low. We really need consumers to recognise how vital a role they have. Anything you buy, from office paper to flooring, asking where it’s from is critical. FSC may not be without its flaws, but buying FSC-certified products is the only way to be certain that the good of the forests, the incredibly diverse species that live in them, and the people who rely on them are being considered.”

The survey also revealed widespread recognition of the need for the government to legislate for change with 65% believing that government and local authorities should commit to sustainable timber procurement policies.

In addition, Julia Young emphasised the crucial role played by manufacturing companies in shaping consumer habits: “Timber is a consumer demand-led market, just like anything else, so consumer response is utterly critical. The number of times we hear companies saying, ‘but our consumers won’t pay more’, while we know that they have been successfully adjusting people’s shopping habits when it suits them for 20 years.”