Strictly embargoed till 00:01 CET on 3rd march 2022
More than 120 human rights, environmental and diaspora groups call on governments to ban Russian and Belarussian wood imports
Kyiv / Brussels, 3 March, 2022– Assisted by Belarus, Russia has launched an aggressive occupation of Ukraine. Today marks the eighth day of the invasion and already thousands of Ukrainian civilians, including children, are dead. Russia has not hesitated to bomb urban settlements, schools, kindergartens and other non-military objects. The situation will only get worse in the days to come.
Russian warfare is impossible without significant financial resources. Both Russia and Belarus rely heavily on the export of natural resources, including timber and wood products such as pellets, paper products and furniture. In 2021 both countries exported timber and wood products worth nearly 16 billion USD. These huge sums of money are important to the Russian military effort- it indirectly helps to equip Russian soldiers, fuel their tanks, and produce their bombs.
Countries supporting Ukraine – the US, the EU, Japan and others – are also the ones consuming the largest quantities of Russian and Belarussian wood. Consumers include billion-dollar giants like IKEA, Egger, Mondi, UPM, International Paper, Stora Enso and firms like Jacob Jurgensen, Kronospan and others.
Friends of Ukraine have imposed numerous economic sanctions against Russia and Belarus, but it is still not enough to stop the daily deaths and destruction. While new sanctions on Belarus, announced by the EU in late February in response to the Ukraine invasion, now include wood it is not clear that they include all timber-both raw materials as well as higher processed goods such as furniture.
Now more than 120 environmental, human-rights, anti corruption and human rights NGOS and individual activists and communities from Ukraine, Belarus, United States, United Kingdom, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Germany, Austria, Finland and elsewhere have appealed to the governments of Ukraine-friendly countries to urgently ban imports of all types of Russian and Belarussian timber and wood products.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources also appealed to the EU Council to ban forest products from Russia yesterday, in a separate appeal.
The civil society coalition also urgently called on wood certification schemes FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), PEFC (Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification) and SBP (Sustainable Biomass Programme) to suspend certification of Russian and Belarussian timber
operations with immediate effect, as it responsible forest management does not involve condoning invasion of a peaceful country.
Any delays with imposing such a ban leads to more deaths and destruction for ordinary Ukrainians.
Notes to Editors:
-A full list of the NGOs which signed the statement (including WWF-Ukraine, Belarussian diaspora communities and independent Belarussian workers unions, supported by EU, UK and US NGOs), is attached to the text of the statement. Available online here: https://uncg.org.ua/support-ukraine-ban-russian-and-belorussian-wood-now/
-An analysis of the top importers of Russian wood to the US and EU is also provided separately, for reference
- Yehor Hrynyk, Forest Campaigner, Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group, Ukraine: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel/WhatsApp/Signal +: +380 67 891 1277
- Sergei Dylevsky, Belarusian Association of Workers (Independent from the state): email@example.com Tel: +48 695 614 692
Tara Ganesh, Head of Timber Investigations, Earthsight, UK: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel/WhatsApp/Signal: +447920053988