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The GFTN Guide to Legal and Responsible Sourcing

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5.0 Establishing Traceability

Establishing TraceabilityWhen implementing a responsible sourcing programme, an organization should draw up an action plan and define SMART targets to serve as steps toward achieving the stated policy goals. The use of annual targets will ensure that activities and progress can be defined, measured and reported as required.

The action plan and targets may be a combination of actions to gather more information about suppliers, species and timber origin as well as to improve the traceability and environmental status of supplies. Stakeholders and management will be expecting the sourcing organization to annually show incremental improvements in the sourcing of forest products. Ultimately, the goal should be to achieve full sourcing of credibly certified forest products. It is important to prioritize planned improvements that address all of the issues identified by the programme. Focusing solely on increasing the volume of certified material could undermine the overall effort, for example, if the question of the legality of other sources is overlooked.

Note for GFTN Participants: GFTN participant companies are required to develop traceability systems to allow assessment of the supply chain.

Key Points - Establishing Traceability

Key considerations when deciding how to collect data from suppliers include:

  • Data-collecting resources available
  • Level of technology available for processing data
  • Adaptability of existing systems
  • Integrity of the supply chain (the stronger an organization's trust in its suppliers, the more streamlined its process can be)
  • Public reporting requirements, which may include external verification of data
  • The need to assess risk (likelihood) of suppliers' ability to deliver their product in accordance with policy requirements
  • What would you be reasonably expected to know given your position in the supply chain

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