June 25, 2020 / 2:01 PM / 17 days ago

Ukraine to crack down on illegal logging

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmygal speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kiev, Ukraine May 29, 2020. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s Prime Minister on Thursday pledged to crack down on illegal logging in the country, days after a report by a non-government organisation alleged that wood from such activities had been found in Swedish retailer IKEA’s supply chain.

Forests cover a significant part of Ukraine, particularly in the west of the country, but activists have said authorities do not control large-scale logging, which can lead to flooding, nor stop the illegal export of wood.

Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told a televised government meeting that the cabinet would move to prevent illegal wood cutting in the forests.

“The first step that we will take to change the situation is an audit... and a change of leaders for most of the forestries who have been in these positions for years,” Shmygal said.

“It is very important to prevent illegal timber cutting.”

IKEA said it does not accept illegally logged wood in its products and would review its supply chain in Ukraine after the report by Earthsight alleged IKEA suppliers illegally sourced wood used in some of the furniture retailer’s most popular chairs.

Shmygal added that while the forest was not a dam and could not prevent flooding by itself, experts and scientists considered it an important environmental factor, especially in the mountainous Carpathian region, home to endangered lynx and brown bears.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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