Greenpeace has called on authorities to launch investigations on the controversial cargo of timber on-board the car carrier Modern Express that was recently towed to the port of Bilbao, Spain, off the French coast.

The ship was bound to Le Havre, France, had veered off its course and wasshifting towards the French shoreline due to stormy weather.

After being rescued, its cargo of timbers drew the attention of the global environmental groups who alleged that the origin of the timber could be from countries that are part of the Congo Basin.

Claimed to be a region where illegal logging is a widespread problem, the forestry sector in the Congo Basin is a region where corruption, lack of transparency, lack of proper monitoring and law enforcement is rampant.

However, the French authority had refuted the allegations.

Operator of Modern Express European Roro Lines (ERL) director Karim Chami asserted that the cargo consisted of four different variety of timber Okan, Azobé, Movingui, [and] Tali which were not listed as endangered trees under UN laws.

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By GlobalData

However, whole logs and sawn lumber are listed within the scope of the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) which restricts illegal timber from entering the European market, as well as urges the operators to keep the supply chain free from illegal timber.

"Greenpeace has asked both the countries to take necessary steps to seize the alleged illegal timber and track down those responsible."

France and Spain don’t adhere to the regulations imposed by the governing body and has failed in conducting sufficient and effective checks.

Greenpeace has asked both the countries to take necessary steps to seize the alleged illegal timber and track down those responsible.

It has also asked for sanctions to be imposed on nations that are non-compliant to the timber regulation.

Gabonese authorities have concluded investigating the case and have called upon Interpol to open an international investigation.

Image: The forestry sector in the Congo Basin region. Photo: courtesy of Greenpeace Africa.