Sustainability FAQ

Where is the timber imported to the UK sourced from?

The UK has an active, flourishing forest sector but currently imports around 2/3 of our timber. Europe supplied 86% of all UK’s imports in 2016. Main UK trade partners include Sweden, the Baltic countries and Finland for softwood products; USA and France for hardwood; Brazil, China and Russia for plywood (both softwood and hardwood) products. Other supplying countries include Malaysia, Indonesia and Canada.


Thanks to tree planting and afforestation plans, UK forests are now growing but they are still unable to satisfy the internal timber needs in terms of volumes and species.


What is the FLEGT Action Plan?

FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) Action Plan was established in 2003 by the European Union. It aims to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber.



FLEGT licensed timber meets the due diligence requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), helping timber importers and traders save time and money. The EUTR requires that operators exercise due diligence when placing timber or timber products on the market.



Find out more below.

What is the EUTR?

The EUTR is part of the European Union’s policy to combat illegal logging and associated trade. It prohibits the placing on the EU market of illegally harvested timber or timber products derived from such timber.



The EUTR requires operators (those who place timber or timber products on the EU market for the first time) to exercise due diligence to ensure that timber and timber products are legally harvested.



What happens if a company is found breaching the EUTR?

The EUTR is implemented in each Member State via national legislation and enforced by national authorities. This means that differences exist in penalty regimes and enforcement practices.



The EUTR is implemented in the UK through the Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulations, 2013.



Operators placing illegal timber or timber products on the market or breaches due diligence requirements can face fines or even imprisonment. For offences related to traceability, record-keeping, obstruction of an inspector or notices of remedial action, an operator is liable on summary conviction to a fine or imprisonment.



The Competent Authority may issue notices of remedial action to operators who are believed to be in breach of the Due Diligence obligation. Remedial measures are specified in the notice.



What are timber certification schemes?

As reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), timber certification is a process which results in a written statement (a certificate) attesting to the origin of wood raw material and its status and/or qualifications, often following validation by an independent third party.



Certification is designed to allow participants to measure their forest management practices against standards and to demonstrate compliance with those standards. Timber certification may also be used to validate any type of environmental claim made by a producer, or to provide objectively stated facts about the timber products and their forest of origin that are not normally disclosed by the producer or manufacturer.



Timber certification typically includes two main components: certification of sustainability of forest management and product certification. Certification of forest management takes place in the country of origin; product certification covers the supply chain of domestic and export markets.



Two major international schemes have evolved to oversee and promote development of forest certification. These are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) based in Germany and the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) based in Geneva. Certified softwoods, hardwoods and panel products are now readily available as standard from many UK and EU-based suppliers and usually these products do not attract a price premium.

What is the Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP)?

The Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) is TTF’s own due diligence system aiming to create a supply chain control mechanism and an effective process of risk management, evaluation and reporting.



The RPP includes a set of tools, guidance, forms and online resources designed to assist TTF member companies in conducting risk assessment on their purchases from outside of the EU and to report their purchases.



Do TTF Member companies get audited?

Yes, TTF members are third-party audited by the Soil Association Certification Limited (SACL). This is compulsory for TTF members carrying the Responsible Purchaser logo.



TTF’s due diligence system includes a systematic and documented process of risk mitigation showing evidence of how risks, identified during a risk assessment, have been adequately and appropriately mitigated.




How does the UK Timber Procurement Policy (TPP) work?

All central government departments, their executive agencies, and non-departmental public bodies, are required to procure either legal and sustainable timber or FLEGT-licensed timber.



The proof of legality and sustainability can be provided through a recognised certification scheme (such as FSC or PEFC) or other evidence of legality and sustainability.



After the dismantlement of the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET), the TTF now provides guidance both to private companies and public bodies.



What are the main differences between PEFC and FSC?

Both PEFC and FSC are committed to achieving the same objectives – the certification of forests to credible, independently verified standards of responsible forest management.



The primary difference between FSC and PEFC lies in their origins. The FSC scheme was established in the early 1990s – principally with the support of environmental organisations as well as UK companies and developed for tropical environments where large forest concessions are the rule. This system could not accommodate ‘group certification’ and led to the introduction of PEFC in the late 1990s in order to facilitate the spread of timber certification in in Europe and North America where large numbers of individuals own small areas of forest.



The existence of two competing international certification schemes has resulted in continuous improvement and both PEFC and FSC have significantly modified their schemes over the past ten years. PEFC is now competent to deal with tropical forestry and plantation regimes, just as FSC has developed a group certification process to accommodate small-scale landowners.



Nowadays, the two certification schemes operate a chain of custody process that traces material through the supply chain from the forest to the end-user. Both are fully compliant with national procurement policies such as CPET in the UK and assist in meeting global objectives such as the EU Timber Regulation.



What is the Modern Slavery Act?

The Modern Slavery Act is a piece of legislation brought into force in 2015. It is designed to take action in preventing the exploitation, servitude and trafficking of people who may be forced into working against their will.



It ties together previous items of legislation and also introduces new penalties relating to vehicle confiscation for human trafficking offences. In addition, it is also designed to encourage companies to take preventative, due diligence measures to combat any potential slavery or forced labour in their own domestic and international supply chains.

Further Information