820 cubic meters of alleged illegal Azobe wood were seized in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium on June 21, 2021.

See also: London furniture company fined US$ 6,942 for failing to carry out timber due diligence

This volume is enough to fill about 40 truckloads.

The confiscation was triggered by an investigation of a Dutch importer.

Location of seizure of 820 m3 of alleged illegal Azobe lumber in Antwerp.
Location of the Port of Antwerp where 820 m3 of alleged illegal Azobe lumber were seized. Source: Timber Risk Map

Dutch importer unable to demonstrate legality of Azobe

According to the Dutch National Police, a Dutch importer was unable to demonstrate that the Azobe was legally harvested, and that it meets the requirements of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) cited here.

The importer was allegedly given time to demonstrate legality, but was unable to do so.

As a result, the lumber was seized by Belgian Federal Police, in cooperation with the Dutch Police and Dutch and Belgian customs.

It will be transported from the Port of Antwerp to a storage facility in the Netherlands until a judge decides what will be done with it.

[We want to send a signal to the industry: importing, selling on, purchasing this type of illegal timber – and thereby also maintaining illegal logging and deforestation – is unacceptable. We are therefore doing plenty of research into this, trying as much potentially collect information and evidence so that we can stop this type of environmental crime.]

English Translation – Peter Hartog, detective and project leader of the Environment team within the Rotterdam police unit.

See: Why destroy seized timber to save forests?

Azobe is a trade name commonly used to refer to the African species Lophira alata. It is sometimes also called “Ekki”.

The wood is typically used in outdoor applications like decking, bridges, retaining walls, and garden furniture. (See examples of Azobe end-uses).

Locations of Lophira alata (yellow dots) in the Guinean-Congolese region (map adapted from Bamps, 1970 and Chevillotte et al., 2009) Source: Biwolé et al. 2012

This is a developing story. Last updated June 22, 2021 4:55pm EST.

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