10th March 2016
A superintendent has been appointed to investigate an illegal timber complaint in Offaly which originated in 2014. Tom Roche, founder of forest campaigning NGO ‘Just Forests’, made a formal complaint to Tullamore Garda station in September 2014 about the use of suspected illegal timber. Mr.Roche alleged that over €20,000 euro worth of ‘suspected’ illegally logged tropical timber was being used as street furniture in Ireland, after being purchased in a number of ‘tree boxes’ by Offaly County Council.
While little progress was originally made on Mr.Roche’s complaint, it has now received fresh attention, with The Garda Ombudsman appointing a superintendent of Portlaoise Garda station to investigate the allegations. The timber species in question is West-African Iroko, which is commonly known as ”teak” in Ireland. It is one of the most commonly used tropical timbers in Ireland.
The Garda Ombudsman’s decision represents another development in the illegal timber trade, which continues to blossom. This is despite the introduction of an EU law in 2013, which intended to prohibit the trade as well as putting a number of obligations on operators and traders. To quote Mr.Roche: ”A number of recent reports shows that EU law is failing to prevent the $100bn a year trade in illegal timber – or that rules are even being implemented”.
Mr.Roche has also stressed the need for Ireland to exercise particular caution, as it is ”the largest per-capita consumption of tropical timber in the EU”. His NGO ‘Just Forests’ have therefore called on all local authorities, government departments, oversea charities, all church bodies, and the Construction Industry Federation in Ireland to adopt reliable policies which will ensure that only products made from legally harvested timber are marketed and used in Ireland. Mr.Roche put particular emphasis on church bodies, making reference to Pope Francis’ recent rhetoric on the relationship between humans and the environment.