The UK is a major importer of wood-based products. Most imports are from within the EU; important exporting countries from outside Europe include China, Malaysia and Russia.
Illegal timber is estimated to make up a small proportion of total imports. In 2013, it was estimated that 2% of imports (by volume) of wood-based products were illegal – a decline from 3% in 2000. A growing proportion of these products are imported from China, reflecting the increased trade with this country (Chatham House, 2014).
The UK has been very engaged in tackling the trade in illegal timber. It was the first country to implement a timber public procurement policy and has played an active part in the development of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, including the negotiation and implementation of the voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs). The private sector in the UK has also been proactive, as reflected in the increase in the number of companies with chain-of-custody certification and in the amount of certified wood-based products on the UK market (Chatham House, 2014). As an EU Member State, the UK is required to implement the EU Timber Regulation, which came into force in March 2013.