A look back at the “Quercus” operation in Spain

6.03.2020
Environment

Spain has carried out Operation “Quercus”, an unprecedented effort to combat illegal timber over a large part of its national territory.

71 people have been arrested or are under investigation in various autonomous communities as part of Operation “Quercus”, conducted since late 2019 against the illegal trafficking of timber from Brazil and Central Africa.

The centralized mechanism, but covering different autonomous regions, involved the Guardia Civil in collaboration with the Ministry of Ecological Transition and was coordinated by Europol and Interpol. The use of new technologies enabled officers to detect illegally traded timber and to generate an alert in a very short time.

Thus, more than 600 actions were carried out in various depots and facilities for import-export, furniture manufacturing, parquet distribution, among others. More than 200 offences relating to the marketing of wood were detected.

Wood was illegally imported from Brazil and Africa, some of which is strictly protected by CITES.

This trafficking is associated with mafia-type organizations. It impacts local communities and companies that respect the rules of sustainable management and legality.

Data from the NGO Traffic indicate that in other African countries, such as Mozambique, more than 90% of the cut timber is exported to China illegally.

The Spanish Ministry of Energy Transition, in charge of controls, has trained a total of 35 Guardia Civil staff in timber identification. Over the next few months, the controls are expected to continue.

Spain imports only about 5% of certified wood. Southern European countries are generally on low levels of imports of this type of wood, which nevertheless allows the final consumer to be sure that his choice respects not only legality, but also the rules of sustainable management.

The ATIBT’s Fair&Precious programme seeks to promote good practices in the tropical timber sector, and points out that better consideration of forest certification will undoubtedly help to overcome this unfortunate situation. The ATIBT recalls the appropriateness of consuming a unique material, tropical wood, which comes from sustainable management and whose trade is necessary for the development of producer countries in the South.