Half of U.K. Consumers Don't Know Wood Purchases Could be Illegal

Half of U.K. Consumers Don't Know Wood Purchases Could be Illegal

FSC certified wood - CC license by Flickr user Giles Douglas

 Half of U.K. residents surveyed don't realize that the paper and wood products they buy could come from unsustainable or illegal sources, according to WWF-UK.

As part of its two-year "What Wood You Choose?" campaign to spread information on sustainable wood choices, WWF-UK brought in research firm TNS to survey U.K. consumers.

The June survey of 1,053 people found that half either thought that by buying paper and wood products in the U.K., the wood came from a legal source or they didn't know if any products come from illegal sources. According to WWF-UK, the U.K. is the fourth largest importer of illegally harvested or traded timber and wood products.

While more than two-thirds of those surveyed think that all local governments in the U.K. should commit to buying only sustainably-sources wood products, only 7.5 percent of governments have timber procurement policies.

And although about 75 percent of people surveyed believe their product choices can make a difference in the lives of people an the environment in developing countries where timber is sourced from, almost the same amount had not heard about the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification program.

FSC is one of several wood certification programs, along with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, although WWF-UK only mentioned FSC-certified products as sustainable choices. “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," Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF-UK, said in a statement.

Illegal timber and wood products will be banned from the European market starting in 2012 due to a law approved this year by the European Union, which is funding the "What Wood You Choose?" campaign. Companies that import timber into the EU will need to provide information on where the timber came from and its legality.

[Editor's note: This article was updated to more accurately represent the findings of the survey,]

FSC certified wood - CC license by Flickr user Giles Douglas