Forest risk commodities put in spotlight by Government

Forest risk commodities put in spotlight by Government


Today the Government began consulting on a set of proposals to protect tropical forests by introducing a new law which targets seven commodities whose rapid expansion is associated with illegal deforestation.

These commodities are: beef and leather, cocoa, palm oil, pulp and paper, timber, rubber and soya. As the consultation rightly notes, with the exception of timber and timber products, there is currently no overarching legal requirement in the UK for businesses to ensure that the commodities they use have been produced in accordance with local laws.

Those in power could argue that the timber industry has been world leading, having worked with Government to introduce the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) in 2013, which is of course being carried through via the UKTR post-Brexit. Our industry is an excellent example of using market forces for good to sustain and grow the world’s forests.

Even without the legislative requirements, our involvement in sustainability and supply chain management has long been embedded in our membership through our Responsible Purchasing Policy and Code of Conduct, as we work collectively to maintain the reputation of the industry and our members as selling only ‘Timber you can Trust’.

If this consultation can follow on from the Global Resource Initiative’s report from March, particularly in driving demand for sustainable commodities, and expand the general public’s understanding of the root causes of deforestation, which are more often than not associated with agricultural pressures, there could be a lot of positives to be found.

We will be watching this consultation with interest, and are strongly encouraging a similar approach to the EUTR for other commodities to ensure only legally produced products are traded. For this stronger laws, due diligence measures and clear supply chains are crucial. You can read more on this consultation in my colleagues article.

It’s unlikely that any regulation will solve all of the problems of global supply chains, but by introducing a bar, however low, it encourages companies to aim that little bit higher, and to reduce the pressure a little bit further on forests and the land they grow on.

That can only be a good thing. As a sector, we should support these moves.

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