The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) plans to hold talks with WWF to discuss the latter’s newly-published Failing the Forests report which names the UK as the biggest importer of illegal timber in Europe.

The TTF’s move follows widespread publicity of the report, which was inaccurately reported by The Independent and The Daily Telegraph.

WWF acknowledges that The Daily Telegraph wrongly quoted the report’s estimate of UK illegal timber imports from six regions (the Amazon, Congo Basin, East Africa, Indonesia, Baltic States and Russia) as £2bn in 2004, when the figure (including paper and wooden furniture) was for the EU. But the conservation group said it was not duty bound to point out the errors to the papers.

TTF chief executive John White said: “It’s a bit disappointing the UK gets fingered when it’s doing so much. The WWF makes some highly dubious assumptions.”

“They are saying the UK is falling down, but it is actually leading the way.”

Mr White said WWF had assumed that the estimated percentage of illegal wood production in a particular country equalled the illegal timber imports by EU nations from that country.

Meanwhile, Forest Industries Intelligence Ltd’s (FII) independent assessment of Failing the Forests, concludes that the report’s data is inadequate, its methodology flawed and its conclusions “misplaced”. A basic FII calculation puts UK illegal imports from the six regions at about €100m.

Beatrix Richards, WWF European forest policy officer, acknowledged the need for “more robust” estimates for illegal timber imports than those contained in the report.

Ms Richards said the report recognises and commends industry efforts to improve traceability of imported wood products and filtering out of illegal material. She also acknowledged the need for measurement and evaluation of such efforts.