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The GFTN Guide to Legal and Responsible Sourcing

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5.2 Tracking Systems & Databases

Establishing TraceabilityFor large and complex supply chains there can be a similarly large and complex set of associated data. This leads to the need for a supply chain database, which can range from a simple paper record to complex software. Generally speaking, the more complex the supply chain (that is, the greater the number of suppliers and products involved), the greater the need for a database.

The most cost-effective way to proceed can often be through the adaptation or use of existing systems, such as quality control or accounting systems. The database should, through associated questionnaires, identify the species, source and volume or value of forest products for each product, supply chain and process. A database is only as good as the data entered. The best source of data for a purchaser of forest products is the supplier.

The Minimum Recommended Content for a Database

Effective monitoring of the sourcing organization's compliance with its policies requires that the following information be collated from the sourcing organization's direct suppliers:

Data field description Comment on data required
Supplier name Name or code used within the sourcing organization's accounting system
Supplier contact details Name of contact who supplied the requested data
Products supplied List of products obtained from this supplier, or generic description of products supplied
Forest sources used The name and location of the forest management unit (FMU) or major processing unit
Timber species used The trade name and Latin name of each timber species used
Evidence of forest management provided Information from first, second, or third parties that provides information on the quality of forest management
Policy compliance Confirmation that all the sourcing organization's policies are complied with
Chain of custody (COC) Information regarding use of third-party COC systems, including COC number(s)
Legal verification Information regarding use of third-party legal verification systems.
Status of forest sources One of the following:
  • credibly certified or recycled source
  • source verified
  • source assessed
  • limited knowledge of forest source
Volume and value of material supplied Measured in cubic meters, tons, other units and/or financial value supplied over a defined period, and give equivalent in cubic meters if other units are used (including conversion factor used)
Date information supplied To allow periodic reviews
Review date The date at which this information must be updated by the supplier
Action plan for this supplier Not every supplier will satisfactorily complete the questionnaire at the first attempt. Missing information should be obtained through an action plan, with timelines and deliverables, that is mutually agreed to with the supplier.
Action plan should contain targets in the SMART format. 
Risk rating or performance rating Based on the information supplied (or not), an assessment of the risk to the organization presented by the supplier.

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