Teak trees in shadows in a old Myanmar teak monastery in shadow

Swedish court rules teak importer is breaking EU logging law

A Swedish court has ruled that a company importing teak from Myanmar is in breach of the EU’s illegal logging law, the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).

This sets an important precedent and could have a major impact on EU countries’ efforts to halt deforestation linked to illegal timber trade.

The EUTR requires companies placing timber on the EU market to carry out due diligence, that is collecting information on their timber supplies, and assessing the risk that the timber has been logged illegally.

Timber should only be placed on the market in the EU if the risk of it being illegal is extremely low.

ClientEarth lawyer Diane de Rouvre said:

“This case confirms that the EUTR requires full traceability of the timber supply chain. Companies which place timber on the EU market, but do not have enough information about the full supply chain and the exact origin of the timber, are breaching this important illegal logging law.”

The Swedish company importing teak from Myanmar is called Almtra Nordic. In a recent report, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) pointed out that this company could not have met the EUTR’s due diligence requirement, because of weak forest governance in Myanmar.

EIA then submitted a complaint to the Swedish Forest Agency (in charge of enforcing the EUTR in Sweden), which fined Almtra Nordic. It required the company to stop selling timber imported from Myanmar until it could properly assess and mitigate the risk of illegality.

The Swedish court agreed with this decision and found that the teak importer was in breach of the EUTR. Almtra Nordic could only trace its supplies back to the state-managed Myanmar Timber Enterprise, but not to exactly where the imported timber had been harvested or by whom.

In doing so, the Swedish court showed that an EU company importing timber supplied by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise cannot meet the EUTR’s due diligence requirement if it relies solely on official documentation provided.

This ruling should set an important precedent for the enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation.

The EUTR, which entered into force in 2013, aims to stop illegally harvested timber and timber products from being placed on the EU market.

Other cases related to Myanmar timber are expected to follow, as complaints have already been submitted in other EU countries. In light of this ruling, further enforcement actions related to other high-risk countries now seem more likely.

Share this...
Share on Facebook! Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn! Email!

Matt Werner

Related articles

More from

  • bialowieza-forest-mushrooms

    EU Court imposes emergency ban on logging in Białowieża Forest

    The Court of Justice of the EU has issued a ban on logging in Białowieża Forest, saying all chainsaws and harvesters must be stopped immediately.

  • The EU Timber Regulation implementation and enforcement updates

    ClientEarth is looking at how the EUTR is being implemented and enforced, and has compiled info-briefings on selected Member States.

  • sunlight through trees

    Victory for Bialowieza as UN body calls for halt to illegal logging

    UNESCO’s renewed call to halt logging in Bialowieza Forest is yet another stop sign for Poland’s Minister of Environment.

  • painted planks for analysis saying Dutch court has ruled on a company breaking EU Timber Regulation

    Dutch court clarifies industry responsibility under EU illegal logging law

    A Dutch court has ruled against a company which broke the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).

  • Follow us

    Newsletters

    Get our regular email newsletters, they contain the latest updates on our work as well as features and articles about environmental issues, science and politics.