Responsibility of timber traders
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) aims to reduce illegal logging by ensuring that no illegal timber or timber products can be sold in the EU. This was created as part of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan.
Buying from certification sources or a country that is FLEGT-licensed is one way that companies can reduce the risk and demand of buying illegally sourced timber. The TTF’s Responsible Purchasing Policy, requires members to undergo a risk management framework ensuring due diligence on their timber products.
Certification, born from a raising awareness of deforestation and illegal logging in the early 19990s, set strict management standards for forestry companies to meet within their defined concession areas and against which they can be audited for compliance by a verified third party.
FLEGT by comparison is a country-wide government process, designed to reduce levels of illegal logging and improve forest governance. This process undergoes a independent auditor, and in some countries a independent monitoring system and regular meetings between the EU and timber producing country to assess progress. As a result, FLEGT licences are effectively ‘triple verified‘.
The FLEGT Action Plan and Certification both have merits and shortcomings, which David Hopkins and Saskia Ozinga explore in depth in their joint publication on Chatham House – Tackling Deforestation: The Need for Regulation. Their summary conclusion is: “forest certification has been pioneering and can play a role in reducing deforestation, but without proper regulation, its impacts will be limited or lost altogether”.