An Austrian company is accused of harvesting timber from the continent’s last primeval forests.
We tend to imagine that illegal logging mostly targets tropical forests in the Amazon, Southeast Asia, and other remote and poorly regulated regions, not in our own backyards. For people who pay attention to such things, there’s comfort in the idea that buying only Forest Stewardship Council–certified lumber keeps us free of complicity in criminal destruction of woodland habitat.
The latest undercover work by the Environmental Investigation Agency focuses on Europe and undermines both those assumptions. It’s a significant embarrassment for the FSC, which until last week was putting its seal of sustainability on timber said to be illegally harvested from Europe’s last surviving virgin forests, in the Carpathian Mountains, and from national parks and other protected areas in Romania. Those habitats were for many years the only refuge in Europe for bears, wolves, lynx, and other species—and they have played a major part in the recent continent-wide rewilding of Europe.
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