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The GFTN Guide to Legal and Responsible Sourcing

7.2 Assessing a Source Assessed

Document Review to Assess Known Licensed SourceTo assess the credibility of the information from the supplier, the sourcing organization should consider the following:

  • Does the supplier operate systems that prove the origin of its timber?
  • Does the supplier have systems to exclude illegal and other unwanted timber?
  • How good are these systems?
  • Can the supplier be trusted?
  • Is the supplier audited, and if so, by whom?

Documents That Can Demonstrate a Source Assessed

A third-party verification aiming to demonstrate that a product contains "verified legal" timber must first check the source forest forest has the license of ownership adn access, and then the operation to confirm the timber was harvested legally. It must then also check that the timber was legally traded and not mixed with timber from illegal sources. This would require a review of at least the following documents:

  • A bill of lading identifying when and by whom the wood was exported
  • Contracts of sale showing when and to whom the wood was sold and demonstrating that the exporter legally owned the wood
  • A certificate of origin stamped by the relevant government authority for the consignment in question
  • Customs documentation from the country where the wood originated, to show that it was legally exported and that all export taxes were paid
  • Customs documentation from the country to which the wood was imported, indicating that the wood was legally imported with all relevant duties paid (this document should match the customs export documents, in particular for colume measurement, valuation, destination where possible and any endorsements by enforcement agencies as appropriate)
  • CITES documentation (depending on the CITES Appendices, may need from both the exporting country and the importing country) if the wood is from a CITES-listed species.

A fuller guide to the required documents for a number of countries can be found here.

Proof that wood has been harvested and sold by a forest company from a known licensed source should include the demonstration of the legal right to harvest. Suppliers should provide the following:

  • A copy of the license with the official boundary map showing that the company has the right to harvest wood from the area in question.
  • A permit from the relevant forestry authorities, with the official management unit map, giving permission to harvest marked species from a specific area (coupe) within the forest in that harvesting period.
  • Log lists showing the tree number, species and trade name where appropriate and dimensions and identifying the cutting area within the forest where the log was produced. (This is not appropriate for a plantation or for many salvage logging operations, where only the coupe or compartment number may be recorded, and not the tree number.)
  • A copy of a Timber Harvesting Plan or equivalent document and a copy of the Forest Management Plan, both approved by the relevant authorities, that prove a company's right to harvest a particular area (may be included as evidence).

A fuller guide to the required documents and processes that a third-party verifier would need to consider for a number of countries can be found here.

A number of organizations are able to offer third-party verification of legal compliance and traceability, the precise scope of which differs from case to case. Verification may be restricted to compliance with harvesting regulations, for example, or may be much broader, including other legal requirements such as those pertaining to health and safety laws.


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