The UK was the second largest importer of illegal timber in Europe in 2006, highlighting the need for stronger legislation, according to the WWF.

A report from the conservation organisation found the UK imported 3.5 million m3 of illegal timber during the year, more than a tenth of the total illegal amount imported by the Continent as a whole. Finland was the worst offending European country, according to the WWF.

It said the volume of illegal timber entering the EU market “highlights the ineffectiveness” of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade voluntary licensing scheme, and underlines the need to introduce an EU law guaranteeing only legal wood is sold on the European market.

The European Commission (EC) is set to debate possible legislation at a meeting on July 23, while Defra is awaiting the results of an EC review on the matter before making a decision on its course of action.