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8.5 Strategies for Verifying Legality

Verifying Legality

Low-Risk Suppliers

Low-risk suppliers are those that are unlikely to supply illegal timber. The level of objective evidence supplied for the risk rating process should already have been significant. Little more needs to be requested of these suppliers other than to ask them to complete a new risk-rating questionnaire each year or when you plan to purchase a new product category from them. However, you should ask them to inform you if their own upstream supply chain is altered significantly, and have them complete a new questionnaire. In the longer term, suppliers in the low-risk category need to be encouraged to work toward sourcing all their timber from credibly certified forest sources.

Low-risk suppliers should supply the following documents as evidence that the timber in their products originates from known licensed sources:

High-Risk Suppliers

Suppliers will fall into the high-risk category because they did not supply sufficient reassurances or objective evidence to prove that they could remove illegal timber from their supply chain. The range and types of objective evidence that suppliers can provide vary greatly from one country to another. The country guides cover the key issues for specific countries and the types of evidence you need from the forest and timber sector in that country. In addition a more general view of documentary requirements for timber from different countries can be found here.

In many cases, official government documentation alone is insufficient to guarantee legality, because the regulatory infrastructure may be corrupt and/or ineffective. In such circumstances, even "official letters" on government department letterheads (such as Certificates of Origin and so forth) claiming the legality of a shipment should be treated with the utmost suspicion. You will need to seek additional reassurances.

For suppliers and product lines rated as high-risk in an initial assessment, you can adopt various strategies to ensure that risk is mitigated to a lesser or greater extent.

Supplier Warranties

If a supplier is not willing to provide you with transparent information about its own suppliers, a way forward might be to obtain a supplier warranty from them. A supplier warranty is a written commitment from your supplier that it will supply you with products in accordance with the warranty. This will form a part of the commercial contract with your supplier.

You can ask the supplier to warrant that the products supplied will comply with your definition of legal timber. Your contract can specify the consequences of the supplier breaching the warranty, including termination of the contract for cause and consequent rights to damages. Genuine suppliers will develop their own Keep it Legal systems to ensure that they comply with this warranty and to keep you as a customer. A less committed supplier might sign the warranty but run a calculated risk that any illegal timber entering their supply chain will go undetected by you or others. Because the promise they make is not checked by an independent organization, the level of risk you would be taking on by relying only on a supplier warranty is relatively high. But it is a step in the right direction and you may be able to claim damages if you find out from a third party that the supplier's products contain illegal timber.

Second-Party Audits

It is entirely possible that you will meet resistance from your supplier with regard to providing information on the business that supplies them. One likely reason for this reluctance is that they will fear that you want to eliminate them from the supply chain. If you are unable to persuade suppliers to provide this information, there are alternative solutions. You can engage an independent organization or second party to gather the appropriate information under strict confidentiality guidelines. This will prevent the revealing of any information that would identify an element of the supply chain. This is a more costly option, but it could prove cost-effective in the long run if it allows you to identify your forest sources and demonstrate that the timber you are using was legally harvested. This information can be used to target markets such as the US to meet the due care requirements of the Lacey Act amendment, the EU Timber Regulation, the Australia Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, the public procurement sectors in some Western European countries or the US that are now asking for this level of assurance about their timber purchases. Some of the organizations that undertake second-party audits include:

Global Forestry Services - www.gfsinc.biz
ProForest - www.proforest.org
Tropical Forest Trust - www.tropicalforesttrust.com
Other organizations offer similar services.

Other organizations offer similar services and this list is not exclusive or confer a recommendation on any of the above organizations.

Legality and Third-Party Audits

Third-party audits are recommended by WWF’s GFTN for high-risk suppliers and are a key element of the verification requirements for the verified-legal timber classification. The third-party auditor must check both legal compliance in the forest and the integrity of the chain of custody to ensure against mixing with illegal timber.
Several independent verification organizations now offer legal verification services and third-party audits. These companies generally claim that their service is the only truly independent one because they avoid conflicts of interest by either not undertaking any consultancy work or, if they do, by keeping the work entirely functionally separate from their auditing work. To provide additional rigor to their auditing role, many such inspection bodies employ accreditation bodies that inspect them to make sure their independence is not compromised and that their work is of a consistently high standard. Organizations offering a form of legal verification include:
Bureau Veritas - www.bureauveritas.com
Certisource Timber - www.certisource.net
Double Helix - www.doublehelixtracking.net
Rainforest Alliance - www.rainforest-alliance.org
Scientific Certification System (SCS) - http://www.scscertified.com/nrc/legalharvest.php
SGS - http://www.forestry.sgs.com/timber-legality-traceability-verification-tltv
Soil Association - www.soilassociation.org/forestry

Other organizations offer similar services and this list is not exclusive or confer a recommendation on any of the above organizations.

Timber Legality Schemes

Within the forest sector the 1990s saw increasing use of private sector mechanisms to attempt to address deforestation and secure sustainable forest management, most notably forest certification. While certification has had beneficial effects, its uptake has been uneven. Unfortunately certification was least successful in the regions where the need for it was the greatest, in particular the Amazon, Congo Basin and Borneo.

Although a number of international efforts such as the World Bank’s Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) and the European Union’s (EU) Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) have been made to address the issues, in particular illegal logging, many countries continue to have major problems within governance, corruption and maladministration. Due to its operational circumstances, the forest sector is often particularly prone to these issues and as a result many tropical timber producing countries are regarded as ‘high-risk’ in relation to forest management and the overall quality of governance.

It has become increasingly clear that while international efforts such as the EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) offer comprehensive solutions within its scope of agreement, the time when the first VPA-compliant timber is available remains many months or even years away. It will therefore be a very lengthy, process to roll out similar measures across the majority of high-risk countries, and given the voluntary nature of these agreements, it is likely that some countries can decline to participate at any stage.

At the same time, the pressure for responsible timber procurement has increased with measures such as the US Lacey Act and the EU’s Timber Regulation and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill. With certified timber supplies from high-risk countries still low, widespread improvement through international governance years away and still few examples of credible national government-led legality verification in high-risk countries, it has fallen to the private sector to develop and implement practical solutions. There has been increasing acceptance among commercial and NGO sectors that while credibly certified responsible forest management should remain as the ultimate goal, the use of ”legal timber” can be a useful interim measure on the road to achieving this.

New Challenges

As with the early days of forest certification, while the market takes time to understand the concept of legality, a number of private sector legality verification schemes have been set up. Similarly, a wide range of credibility, trustworthiness and integrity can be found among them. This means that timber buyers need to understand how these legality verification schemes operate to ensure they do not just automatically verify ”business as usual”, and actually guarantee certain minimum legal requirements are being verified and actually being met in the field.

To provide an acceptable level of reliability legality verification schemes have to operate in a credible manner and operate within a known framework. Key elements of legality verification schemes can be seen as:

Definitions of Legality

At the core of legality verification lies the definition of legality. Preparing a definition of legality can be a challenging task. Ensuring this is done through a multi-stakeholder process will help ensure the definition is credible and fair. However, there are some difficult issues to address nevertheless. Key to these is the scope of the legality definition. If one considers all the laws in force in a country that may be applicable to forestry companies, this can often run into a large number of individual pieces of legislation. When talking about forest legality, do we really mean all laws or just the most important ones for forestry, and which ones would they be?

The ”speeding logging truck” is often used as an example to illustrate the problem. If a logging truck is caught traveling over the speed limit (i.e. it has broken an applicable law), should we consider the logs to be illegal, even if they were harvested and transported in accordance with the laws up until that point? Many people would see this is absurd as it fails to address the core issues of illegal logging.

In reality given the complexity of existing legal frameworks, most legality initiatives have chosen to restrict legality standards to a critical sub-set of laws and regulations. These fall into two broad categories:

In addition, VLC often includes requirements for legal processing, including compliance with domestic processing quotas, guarantees against mixing with non-legal sources and payment of processing levies; and legal trade and export including export licensing, procurement of necessary CITES authorization and customs clearance.

Key Elements of Legality Verification Schemes

Depending on national context and the objectives of verification, a legality definition might include some or all of the above components. Therefore, it is very important to understand the scope of the legality definition used in a particular verification audit. Making sure the key elements are included in the legality definition and how this is verified will ensure the credibility of the verification.

In an effort to support the development of a more consistent and common approach to legality verification, the GFTN and TRAFFIC developed a forest-focused set of principles and criteria covering key legality issues – the Common Framework for Assessing Legality of Forestry Operations, Timber Processing and Trade. This legality framework can help both regulators and companies, particularly GFTN members in countries of export and import, to identify the key legal requirements for VLO and VLC.

Legality Verification in Challenging Conditions

The need for legality verification is derived from the incapacity or failure of governance structures to ensure the rule of law within the forest sector. However, legality verification can never be a substitute for competent forest governance and, to a certain extent, depends on the existence of functioning governance structures in order to operate. It is therefore necessary to always consider the background governance situation, and the weaker these are, the more carefully the verification process should precede. For example, while the legality verification schemes in operation have the potential to address the issue of corruption in the allocation of harvesting rights—uncovering corrupt practices is notoriously difficult, and forest legality verification teams are unlikely to obtain access to necessary information to investigate these.

Similarly, in many cases when conducting a legality verification audit, the objective evidence needed to verify compliance with a law is derived from the national governance system. For example, harvesting block closure authorization by the forest authority may be the means of verifying that harvesting complied with key forest laws. The question arises where forest governance is weak, should the verification body seek some triangulation of evidence from the field or accept the block closure approval as appropriate objective evidence? The weaker the governance, the less likely a verification based solely on this type of evidence will be credible. However, verifiers may find it very difficult to get access to corroborate authority-derived evidence.

Further information regarding governance in forest producer countries is available from Transparency International.

Issues with Audits

Second- and third-party audits are regarded as the best means of determining the legality of a supplier. However, there are issues to consider concerning the level of assurance provided. Auditors are only on site for the duration of the audit, maybe only two or three days. Many observers ask what happens when the auditors are not present, particularly with respect to high-risk suppliers. Evidence suggests that some suppliers put on a special "show" for auditors and then revert to normal practice as soon as the auditors have left the premises.

Your local trade body will probably be able to suggest a certification body with appropriate skills in the timber sector. It is also wise to ask for recommendations from NGOs, including your local GFTN manager.


7.6 Source Assessed in the Context of Exports to Australia

Aligned with international efforts, including measures developed by the United States and EU, Australia further strengthens its leadership position in the Asia-Pacific region in promoting trade in legally harvested timber and timber products by enacting the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act (AILPA) and enhancing international cooperation to combat illegal logging.

AILPA was passed in 2012, a draft Amendment was issued in May 2013 and is expected to enter into law November 2014. The aims of AILPA are to reduce the harmful environmental, social and economic impacts of illegal logging and affects to Australian timber importers and domestic processors of Australian raw logs.

The regulation does not require a due diligence system to be created for each transaction.  Rather, the regulation requires the establishment of a single due diligence system that can be applied to each import. For example, an importer may establish a due diligence system and apply it to a particular product from a particular source.  The outcome of this process will be an understanding of the information and documentation required to be obtained when importing that product from that particular source.

However the regulation that outlines the operational framework for importers and processors will come into effect after 30 November 2014.

In addition, the regulation also provides:

  1. civil offence and penalties.
  2. Infringement notice provisions.
  3. Administrative sanction provisions.
  4. Identity card requirements.

The law does not impose any Australian legislation on the source country, but uses the laws that are in placed in the country of origin to determine illegality of harvest and trade.

 

The list of regulated timber products is prescribed in a Schedule of the Regulation (http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L00883). This list is closely aligned with the list of EU products, with some exceptions where the imports of those products to Australia are of low trade value and/or volume. It has fewer products than either the EU or US legislations and has an additional category relating to wooden framed seats.

Some products are exempted from the due diligence requirements of the Regulation. These include: timber products that are recycled material and any content of a timber products that are recycled material. Timber in a regulated timber product is recycled material if:

However, material in a regulated timber product is not recycled material if the material is the by-product of a manufacturing process. Examples: Sawdust or off cuts from sawn timber used to make particle board or plywood

 

Information the importer needs:

-          Evidence that the product has not been illegally logged

-          Information on whether the harvesting of that tree species from which the timber was derived is prohibited in the place of harvest or not

-          If the harvest of the timber in that place is authorised by legislation and regulation – proof that the requirements of the legislation been met for the harvest of that timber

-          If payment is required for the right to harvest the timber – proof that payment has been made

-          Information on whether the harvest of the timber was consistent with the law establishing or protecting the legal rights of use and tenure in the place of harvest or not 

 

Before importing a regulated timber product into Australia, an importer must have a due diligence system and retain a written record of that due diligence system. The requirements for a due diligence system may be summarised as a four step process to be put in place by an importer as set out below.

Step 1: Information gathering (section 10 of the AILPA)

  1. An importer must obtain as much of the prescribed information as is reasonably practicable. The Regulation includes a list of types of information to be obtained by an importer.

Step 2: Optional process - assessing and identifying risk against a timber legality framework (section 11) or a country specific guideline (once they are prescribed) (section 12)

  1.      ii.        Under the Regulation, in certain circumstances, an importer may elect to assess the risk that the timber in the product they are importing has been illegally harvested using either:

-          a timber legality framework that is prescribed in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Regulation; or

-          a country specific guideline (once they are prescribed in Part 2 of Schedule 2 to the Regulation). The Regulation requires that, should an importer elect to use this optional process, they must:

  1. Should an importer elect to use this optional process and, in doing so, assess that there is a low risk that the timber product is illegally logged, then the requirements under section 13 do not apply. In circumstances where section 13 does not apply, risk mitigation (section 14) also does not apply.
  2. However, risk mitigation does apply in circumstances where the importer is required to use section 13 and the risk that the timber product was illegally logged, as assessed under section 13, is not a low risk.

Step 3: Risk assessment (section 13)

  1.       i.        Where an importer has not used the optional process set out in Step 2, or where they have used the Step 2 process but they have identified a risk that the timber is illegally logged and the risk is other than a low risk, an importer must undertake a risk assessment in accordance with section 13.
  1. The Regulation requires the importer, as part of this process, to identify and assess any risks by taking into consideration the risk factors that are referred to in subsections 13(2) and (3).

Step 4: Risk mitigation (section 14)

  1. Where an importer has, during Step 3, identified a risk that the timber was illegally logged and the risk was not a low risk, an importer must undertake a risk mitigation process in accordance with       the Regulation.  The Regulation requires the risk mitigation process to be adequate and proportionate to the identified risk.

 

Timber sourced from certified forests (*FSC or **PEFC) will automatically be determined to be “low risk by the AILPA.

The act requires a declaration about the timber legality at the point of import of each shipment. Importers of regulated timber products must have declarations, at the time of import, to the Customs Minister about the due diligence that they have undertaken.

Detailed information on the AILPA can be found here: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L00883


14.5 Guides to Legal Documentation

The following documents provide an overview to the typical areas that need to be covered when assessing the legality of forest products in a given country. In the absence of guidance for a specific country, the general guidance should be observed.

Please Note: These documents are for educational and informational purposes only and
are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice
on compliance with any law, regulation or requirement should consult with a qualified
legal professional.


6.3 Identifying Known Sources of Forest Products

Product Traceability

"Known" Source?

Detail and Improvements

Traceable to direct supplier. Supplier is not a forest owner or manager (not an integrated company).

No

Agree on an action plan with the supplier to deliver more traceability that will identify where the wood was harvested.

Traceable to secondary processor. Processor is not a forest owner or manager (not an integrated company).

No

Agree on an action plan with the supplier to deliver more traceability that will identify where the wood was harvested. If this processor also supplies material through another direct supplier, consider a direct approach to the processor for more information.

Traceable to primary mill. Mill is not a forest owner or manager (not an integrated company).

Maybe

If the mill has complete traceability for all sources and can identify the source for given batches of material, this is acceptable. If the mill cannot offer this degree of traceability, agree on an action plan with the supplier to determine (initially) the major suppliers to the primary mill and identify what plans the mill has to improve traceability.

Traceable to an integrated forest products company (a company that is involved in forest management and forest products processing).

Maybe

If the supplier can demonstrate that it has a good degree of traceability at all levels and that it sources only from its own forestry operations, this is an acceptable level of traceability. If the integrated supplier draws from beyond its own sources, it will need to demonstrate similar traceability. If it can, this is acceptable. If it cannot demonstrate such traceability, agree on an action plan with the supplier to identify (initially) its own suppliers and what plans the mill has to improve traceability.

Traceable to the forest management unit.

Yes

Documentation and confidence in systems is high, and all materials can be traced to this forest or forests.


11.0 Environmental Status of Supplies - Recycled Sources

Credibly Certified Source

The raw material used should be designated recycled if it is either a forest product made from post-consumer recycled fibre (for paper) or wood-based material that is sourced from a recovery process. The definition of recycled varies in different countries and markets. To ensure that the policy and definition used are robust, a sourcing organization should check with its stakeholder groups. In most countries the term recycled infers that the wood or fibre has been used previously by an end consumer (this is also termed "post-consumer" recycling).

It should be noted that not every sourcing organization will want to include recycled wood and fibre within its sourcing policy. For many sourcing organizations, however, and particularly those that have identified recycling as a key issue among their stakeholders, there is much value to be gained through the use of recycled materials. A number of organizations have developed systems to certify recycled materials and have developed certification standards, including the FSC. More information on standards and definitions of recycled materials is available at www.fsc.org.

More information regarding recycled paper and WWF’s support can be found here.

What Does Recycled Source Mean?

Criteria

 

Requirements


13.0 Reviewing and Improving the Programme

Reviewing and Improving the Programme

The sourcing organization should develop a series of annual targets to serve as steps toward achieving its stated policy goals. The use of annual or shorter term targets can ensure that activities and progress can be defined, measured and reported as required.

The preceding sections have elaborated on a process that helps define where a sourcing organization is with respect to the policy commitments and targets that have been set. The picture will not be perfect:—not all sources will be categorized at the highest level, nor will all be certified. Stakeholders and management will be looking for the sourcing organization to show annual incremental improvements, with fewer unwanted or merely known forest products in the sourcing mix. Ultimately the goal should be to achieve full sourcing of certified forest products. It is important to prioritize planned improvements, addressing the whole spectrum of issues that are identified. Focusing solely on increasing the volume of certified material could undermine the overall effort, should the question of the legality of other sources be overlooked.


4.1 Communicating Policy

CommunicationsOnce a sourcing organization has developed a responsible forest products sourcing policy and implemented a programme of work, it is extremely important that it widely disseminates the information about its policy and all associated activities. At the very least, the policy must be communicated to colleagues and staff (most crucially, the organization's buyers of forest products), and suppliers that will be affected by the policy.

The sourcing organization may also choose to communicate the policy to other stakeholder groups identified in the review. The mechanisms for communicating the policy are varied and are best determined by the issuing organization.

Examples of ways to communicate the policy include the following:

Note for GFTN Participants: GFTN participant companies are required to demonstrate publicly their sourcing policy and will be required to demonstrate how this has been communicated to the supply chain.


0.1 What Is a Responsible Sourcing Programme?

A responsible sourcing programme for forest products should aim to improve the environmental and social performance of the supply base by ending the purchase of products that contain timber or fibre from sources that do not comply with stated company policy. The programme should also continuously increase the proportion of forest products purchased that contain timber from credibly certified forests.

To achieve this transition, from whatever starting point, purchasers can use the GFTN's stepwise approach, which advances companies through a series of manageable actions. Assessment of the progress made from one step to the next requires that there be a high degree of traceability to the forest source, which will be discussed later in this guide.

A stepwise approach requires progression (from limited knowledge of source forest) through the following five suggested categories:


1.0 Senior Management Support

Senior Management SupportTurning policy and values into a programme that promotes the legal and responsible sourcing of forest products inevitably requires management support. Any activity that is seen as not being central to operations stands little chance of succeeding. Like all environmental and ethical programmes, a programme of responsible sourcing will succeed only when it is supported at the highest levels of management.

For smaller sourcing organizations, a programme of legal and responsible sourcing will require the support of a partner or owner to ensure that the necessary resources are made available and to ensure that conflicts over policy enforcement are resolved.

In larger sourcing organizations, a member of the board of directors or vice president should be made accountable for the programme. In all cases, the support of the head of the buying or trading function should be sought.

Key Points - Senior Management Support

Management Roles

The member of senior management should support the programme and its policies at the highest level of management in the sourcing organisation and resolve any major conflicts that may arise relating to the work. A member of middle management should manage the relationship with stakeholders, set and agree to targets, develop policies and negotiate with key internal stakeholders. A programme manager should manage relationships with buyers and traders, manage relationships with suppliers and develop tools to assess the environmental status of forest products in the supply chain. Organizstions that have successfully embedded such policies have broadened management responsibilities for implementation as widely as possible. Ensuing that all key roles are involved and in turn understand their responsibilities is a key to success. 

Note for GFTN Participants:
GFTN participant companies are required to nominate both senior managers and day-to-day contacts.


10.0 Environmental Status of Supplies - Credibly Certified Source

Credibly Certified Source

The term "credibly certified forest product" refers to timber originating in forests that have been independently assessed and certified as being well managed; that is, they are managed in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable manner. The independent certification process requires that standard setting, accreditation and auditing all be performed by different independent bodies. Forest certification inspections or audits are carried out by third party certification bodies. These certifiers in turn are accredited by an independent accreditation body. The forest audits must be site-specific and should assess management at the level of the forest management unit against measurable, recognized performance standards. These standards must include minimum thresholds for economic, social, and environmental criteria.

Final customers (purchasers of goods not for resale/consumers) seek assurance in the form of a chain-of-custody certificate that the timber products they are sourcing are from credibly certified forests. This form of certification requires that businesses that handle certified forest timber demonstrate that their certified timber and raw materials are produced under a credible chain-of custody system. Chain-of-custody certification can be coupled with a logo or label that can be used, where desirable, to identify timber from well-managed and certified forest operations. Independent forest certification and the associated market in certified forest products are both market-driven and stakeholder driven processes.

What Does Credibly Certified Mean?

Criteria

Requirements

Credible Forest Certification Systems

Forest certification aims to provide reliable information for end users and consumers of forest products, assuring them that the forests from which the timber originated are managed according to high environmental, social and economic standards. Over the last decade, various forest certification systems have developed to meet the requirements of different stakeholders.

To meet WWF’s basic requirements for a credible forest certification system, the system must:


Using the above criteria, WWF developed a tool called the Forest Certification Assessment Tool (CAT), which will continue to be used to assess a range of schemes and define an appropriate level of acceptability. Within the multi-scheme environment that exists today, WWF and the GFTN will support all schemes that reach a level of credibility as defined by the Guide or any future tools developed.

Recent assessments show that the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification system best meets WWF’s key requirements as described by CAT. Thus, while WWF acknowledges that several schemes may contribute to improved forest management, WWF will continue to use the FSC as the internationally recognized hallmark of responsible forest management.

The sourcing organization is urged to monitor developments in credible certification wherever possible to engage in debate, trials and discussions that will raise the level of understanding and long-term improvements in the credibility of schemes, leading to improved forest management practices.

Checking Whether a Source is Credibly Certified

The organization should ensure that it obtains a chain-of-custody certificate that is relevant to the timber or materials supplied. The authenticity or scope of the certificate can be checked either at the FSC website or, in some cases, at the website of the certification body.

More information regarding credible forest certification and WWF’s support can be found here.


3.2 Main Policy Elements

Unacceptable SourcesResponsible purchasers should develop an environmental policy or set of policies that exclude unwanted forest sources. The list of unwanted sources, and the precise terminology used to describe them, will vary according to the social and environmental issues of concern to the organization and its stakeholders.

Unwanted Sources

WWF recommends that, at a minimum, sourcing organizations regard timber or fibre as unwanted if the following conditions exist:

  1. The source forest is known to or suspected of containing high conservation values, except where the forest is certified or in progress to certification under a credible certification system, or the forest manager can otherwise demonstrate that the forest and surrounding landscape is managed to ensure that those values are maintained.
  2. The source forest is being converted from natural forest to a plantation or other land use, unless the conversion is justified on grounds of net social and environmental gain, including the enhancement of high conservation values in the surrounding landscape. More information on WWF's work concerning forest conversion can be found here.
  3. The timber was illegally harvested or traded.
  4. The timber was traded in a way that drives violent armed conflict or threatens national or regional stability (i.e. what is commonly called conflict timber).
  5. The harvesting or processing entity or entities, or a related political or military regime, are violating human, civil and traditional rights.
  6. The timber is from genetically modified trees.
  7. The source forest is unknown.

Note: The seven categories of unwanted sources eliminate most activities from the supply chain that preclude credible certification. These items also are closely linked to the requirements for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Controlled Wood Standard.

This list is a minimum, and other elements should be introduced to reflect stakeholder concerns that are identified. More information on these categories is available here.

Acceptable Sources

The organization will also want to consider what is the minimum acceptable in terms of policy. Acceptable sources of wood or fibre, in descending preference might include:

  1. Material from credibly certified forests / recycled material
  2. Material from verified sources forests which has been 3rd party verified for basic social and environmental criteria.
  3. Material from assessed sources which have been evaluated for basic legality and traceability. 

In all cases compliance with all aspects of the purchaser's policy should be the desired state.

Examples of forest products sourcing policies can be found here.

Note for GFTN Participants: GFTN participant companies are required to agree policies that, as a minimum, cover these key elements.

Scope - What to Include

The scope of the policy may vary from one sourcing organization to the next—such as, the inclusion or exclusion of forest products intended for resale only, forest products sold under "own brand" or "store brand" only, forest products procured for service use and not for resale (for example, copier paper) and forest products used within the fabric of buildings (for example, wooden doors or floors in new offices or factories).

Therefore, the scope of the policy is flexible and can expand overtime. Best practice dictates that the scope of the policy be set to apply to the largest impact area of the business; for example, a retailer should consider its largest selling range of forest products before its office copier paper.

It would also be prudent to consider market based legislation, existingand evolving, to ensure that the policy at the very least covers material affected or potentially affected.

The policy should also include:

The policy and any associated documents should be the responsibility of senior management within the sourcing organization and should have the same level of endorsement as any other of the sourcing organization's policies (such as those on health and safety or discrimination).


Conflict Timber

“Conflict timber” is a term used to describe timber that is produced and sold to finance armed conflict. The definition used by the NGO Global Witness is “timber that has been traded at some point in the chain of custody by armed groups, be they rebel factions, regular soldiers, or the civilian administration, either to perpetuate conflict or to take advantage of conflict situations for personal gain”.

Conflict timber is not necessarily illegal, though this will depend on governmental sanctions that may be in place at any given time.

Conflict Timber—Relevance for Responsible Purchasers

Individual organisations need to be aware of the existence of conflict timber and should be prepared to adjust their purchasing policy accordingly. Where research or stakeholder interaction suggests that such timber may be present in the supply chain, it is recommended that the purchasing policy be reviewed and as necessary enforced to remove the source from the chain. NGOs and other stakeholders may be able to assist in identifying sources of conflict timber; the UN also may have information, for example, in the form of embargoes or other dialogue that may assist in identifying such sources.

Countries that have regional variations (i.e., the conflict is regional) need to use an extremely clear and detailed chain of custody to ensure that the supply chain involved is not associated with the region in conflict. The complicated nature of conflicts may undermine this process and not satisfy stakeholders that the issues can be sufficiently separated.

More information on conflict timber can be found here –

Global Witness www.globalwitness.org


14.3 Developing National Indicators, Verifiers and Guidance for the Common Legality Framework

In order to test the applicability of the Common Legality Framework in different legal settings, TRAFFIC led the development of national indicators, verifiers and guidance for a sample of countries including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Cameroon, Russia, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Gabon.

This work was undertaken through a partnership with national government agencies in two countries. In China, TRAFFIC’s partner in conducting this work was the China National Forestry Economics and Development Research Centre (CNFEDRC) of the State Forestry Administration. In Vietnam, TRAFFIC’s partner was the national Forest Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). In the other countries, the work was carried out by TRAFFIC staff and consultants.

The National Legality Frameworks were developed through a five-step process:

  1. Compiling the legal base
  2. Initial stakeholder consultation
  3. Drafting the national framework
  4. Subsequent stakeholder consultation and national framework revision
  5. Legal and audit expert review

The initial activity was the compilation of all available documents constituting the legal framework for the forestry sector in each of the countries. This was followed by individual consultations at the national level with relevant individuals in the forestry sector including representatives of the forestry administration, government, research institutes, the private sector—including current GFTN members where appropriate, NGOs and donors. The consultation was aimed at conducting a needs assessment for a legality framework, and once agreed on the need for one, identifying the most important issues requiring attention while developing the Common Legality Framework.

The preliminary draft of the Common Legality Framework for each country was developed taking into account the results of the consultative process. Drafts were presented at a series of national consultative meetings and workshops organised with support from within each of the countries. Participants were tasked with examining the preliminary draft of the Framework and proposing amendments. National workshops were held in:

Each of the workshops was attended by approximately 30 participants from various government agencies (forestry, customs, environment and finance); national and international NGOs (e.g. IUCN, CIFOR, etc.), the private sector (timber concessionaires, processors, etc.) and assessors (independent auditors of forest certification and chain of custody). Stakeholder consultations gave guidance on the adequacy of the indicators and of the level of detail that should be included in the Common Legality Framework. In addition to the national consultation workshops in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo, TRAFFIC and WWF-CARPO also reached out to key stakeholders in order to gather additional views on the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the Common Legality Framework.

In Gabon, the workshop was organised in close collaboration with the Gabonese Ministry of Forestry, the French Cooperation and the Delegation of the European Commission in Gabon. A main constraint of the activity in Africa was the lack of satisfactory stakeholder consultation despite efforts made to consult with all relevant stakeholders in each country. In particular, the industry sector in CAR, NGOs and industry in Gabon, NGOs in DRC and all stakeholders in RC. Therefore, TRAFFIC and WWF-CARPO decided to reinforce consultations with these groups in each country during the period of June to mid-July 2007.  This last consultation phase was through small meetings, bilateral consultations or submission of written comments.

In China, several consultation workshops were held. In May 2006, fourteen representatives from NGO communities, local government, forestry institute, forest industries and GFTN-China participants attended a workshop to discuss the needs assessment activities and the elements of a legal standard in China including possible difficulties of the task. Detailed discussions were subsequently held with the relevant organisations and agencies during field visits in Shanghai in August 2006. Another meeting was specifically held to discuss the Common Legality Framework at the GFTN-China annual meeting held on 9 November 2006. This second consultation included some of the existing and potential GFTN-China participants, forest industry, relevant government departments, academic institutions and national forestry commerce associations. In collaboration with the State Forestry Administration TRAFFIC organized a national workshop in April 2007 in Beijing. The workshop was designed to conclude the first round of peer review for the legality standard in China. Twenty-three participants joined this workshop, including participants from the State Forestry Administration, the China CITES Management Authority, the Beijing Forestry University, the Forestry Academy of China, the China Forestry Commerce Association, and WWF-China. After this workshop, TRAFFIC conducted ‘peer review field trip’ to several provinces in China to discuss the definition with the provincial forestry bureaus and other provincial-level stakeholders.

In Malaysia, national workshops were not held due to the existence of legality standards from the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) which was developed through national and regional stakeholder consultations, and the on-going EU FLEGT VPA discussions which were starting to develop their own legality standard through a multi-stakeholder process as well. TRAFFIC built on the foundation set by MTCC but developed the Common Legality Framework as part of a larger harmonization process that cuts across the project countries. One-on-one consultations were held with relevant organisations and individuals in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, including with forestry departments, MTCC, Malaysian Timber Industry board, Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), industry representatives and associations, auditors, and NGOs including environmental and social organisations.

In Vietnam, the national workshop in February 2007 was hosted by TRAFFIC and the Forest Protection Department. Further meetings were held with government institutes and organisations from the Vietnam’s forestry sector including Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI); Forest Science Institute of Vietnam (FSIV); Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFORES), Vietnam Forestry Science Technology Association (VIFA); Vietnam Forest Corporation (VINAFOR); and Hanoi Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD). Based on feedback from this round of consultative meetings, another draft was formulated. Further consultations on the draft were held with NGO stakeholders and industry (GFTN-Vietnam participants and applicants), with a new revision developed. Due to the difference in each individual’s and organization’s agenda, stakeholder consultation process in Vietnam was undertaken on a one-on-one basis.

Based on the results of the national workshops and various consultations, second and third drafts of the Principles, Criteria and Indicators (PC&I) were prepared. These subsequent drafts were reviewed by key representatives from each country and also by TRAFFIC to ensure the harmonisation of the Framework at the international level, at least to the level of Principles and Criteria.

The next step in the process was to utilize legal experts in each country to review the national PC&I to ensure that regulations referred to were current and relevant. In many of the countries there were few legal experts with the requisite expertise that were sufficiently knowledgeable and multidisciplinary in forestry, trade, conservation, environment and social issues. Therefore, it took some time to find suitable experts and complete the legal review.

A final process of harmonisation and review of the Common Legality Framework was conducted to determine possible applicability in terms of auditing and practicality of use of the verifiers. This was carried out by a consultant with expertise in conducting certification and chain-of-custody audits.

The process of developing and finalising the Common Legality Framework spanned two years, reflecting the time needed to consult widely; to take note of and accommodate the various political and administrative differences in each country; and then to harmonise the various national Criteria. It was completed in early 2009.

Due to differences in laws, procedures and implementation of the regulations, the generic Criteria may not all be applicable in every country. Each country’s Criteria and Indicators, where appropriate, may omit one or more of the Criteria, in which case the numbering sequence is also reordered for that country. For example, in some countries, there is limited legislation covering conservation or environmental issues. It is also important to note that the Criteria and Indicators are dependent on the regulations, and these regulations cover a wide range of conditions, in particular exemptions or stricter measures, usually established through contracts or agreements. The guidance notes attempt to clarify this with some details, but since the range of conditions in some Principles and Criteria is so varied between countries it may be necessary to check with the relevant agencies for greater guidance.

Some of the national verifiers identified through the above process do not refer in this document to specific regulations, but were raised during stakeholder consultations and approved for inclusion to address particular aspects of the trade or social, environmental and conservation issues, for example, contractual obligations. However, these are seldom used as the basis for the setting of indicators of the relevant country.

As legality is based on the laws and regulations of a country, including relevant departmental administrative circulars and contractual obligations, indicators and verifiers should be linked to specific regulations.  This should help to make it easier to update and keep the Framework current. Guidance notes and verifiers to assist auditors and companies in assessing compliance should be provided together with relevant regulations where possible. It is important to note that the Framework is a living document and will be updated on a regular basis to account for changes to the regulatory framework in each country.


8.6 Choosing the Appropriate Status for a Source

Choosing the Appropriate Status for Your Source

The more an organization digs into the issues, the more information will come to light that may have a bearing on the status of the source. Sufficient information may be available at the initial baseline investigation to determine if a source is to be given the status “Unwanted”. Further rounds of information gathering may affect the status of a source previously categorized as “Limited knowledge” or “source assessed,” which will force a re-evaluation and perhaps a downgrading to “Unwanted”. In most cases, the process of gathering information, analyzing it and seeking clarification will take some time. However, it is important to make sure that this process does not become a method to delay making a decision on the future of the supplier and continue business as usual. It is therefore essential to set appropriate deadlines, agree on these with the supplier and clearly identify what will happen at that point.

The table below can be used as a checklist to identify whether a source is assessed, verified, unwanted or there is limited knowledge. It is also a useful checklist for compliance against the FSC Controlled Wood Standard.

Using information on an individual source plus information on the supplier of the material, work through the table to identify the most appropriate status. The table refers in some cases to “an agreed upon period” which is the period of time defined by the buyer and accepted by the supplier to meet this condition.

 

Policy Criteria

Limited knowledge of forest
Source

Unwanted
Source


Source Assessed

Source Verified

Legality:
The supplier knows where the timber was grown and can identify the harvesting entity.
The timber originates from an entity that has a legal right to harvest timber in the forest management unit where the timber was grown, and has been legally traded.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed upon period:
The supplier cannot identify that the harvesting entity has a legal right to harvest (has a harvesting permit and authorization from the resource owner).


The supplier identifies the harvesting entity and that the harvesting entity has a legal right to harvest and timber has been legally traded.

Same as source assessed

High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF):
Regarding whether the timber is harvested from forest areas where forest management activities maintain or enhance high conservation values.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

If HCVs are only suspected or are not evaluated—
No special management to maintain or enhance is adopted for high conservation values.

If HCVs are identified—
(a) lack of willingness to recognize values, assess values, or engage in any form of HCV forest management; and/or (b) lack of willingness to adopt a precautionary principle for HCVs.

If HCVs are only suspected or are not evaluated—the precautionary approach shall be adopted and no timber shall be supplied until the presence of high conservation values (HCVs) has been credibly assessed and appropriate management (to maintain or enhance) can be planned accordingly.

 If HCVs are identified, evidence is provided that
(a) the forest is certified, or in progress to certification (and a comprehensive HCV forest assessment has been done and an action plan developed to ensure the maintenance and enhancement of the identified HCVs,
OR
(b) the forest manager can otherwise demonstrate that the forest and/or surrounding landscape is managed to ensure those values are maintained (usually this will involve a comprehensive HCV forest assessment in the site/landscape and a commitment to management actions and monitoring to ensure the HCVs are maintained and enhanced).

More information on HCVF here.

Unjustified Forest Conversion:
Regarding whether the known source is a forest that is being inappropriately cleared or converted, and/or timber that has been harvested from areas that have been converted from natural forest to plantations or nonforest uses.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

No evidence is provided that

  • a transparent multi-stakeholder planning process has been conducted;
  • there are no outstanding conflicts with local and indigenous peoples regarding the clearance;
  • where the forest is classified or suspected as being of high conservation value these values are being maintained or enhanced;
  • an environmental impact study has been conducted and its recommendations implemented.
 

 Evidence is provided that

  • a transparent multi-stakeholder planning process has been conducted;
  • there are no outstanding conflicts with local and indigenous peoples regarding the clearance;
  • the forest is classified or suspected of being of high conservation value and these values are maintained or enhanced;
  • an environmental impact study has been conducted and its recommendations implemented.

More information on forest conversion:
http://assets.panda.org/downloads/ wwf_position_paper_on_forest_conversion.pdf

Conflict Timber:
Regarding whether the timber was traded in a way that drives violent armed conflict or threatens national or regional stability.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

The source is clearly or strongly suspected of, originating from a country or operation that is not acceptable according to the sourcing policy.

 

Clear evidence is provided that the source is not listed as unwanted according to the sourcing policy.

More information on conflict timber here

Human Rights Issues: Regarding whether the harvesting or processing entity, is violating human rights.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

Internal and external stakeholder concerns
identify specific issues, countries,
or companies that are extremely controversial
or out of step with generally
accepted practices.

 

Internal and external stakeholder concerns
identify specific issues, countries, or companies that are extremely controversial or out of step with generally accepted practices.

More information on human rights issues here.

Endangered Species:
Regarding whether the tree species involved is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (or other schedules, as defined by the responsible purchaser’s policy) where trade is prohibited, or is listed in CITES Appendices II or III but the supporting certificates from the CITES management and scientific authorities in the country of origin are valid.

The supplier cannot identify the species of timber supplied or where it was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

Species is identified as CITES Appendix I.

CITES Appendix II or III trade (where permitted under the sourcing policy) is not backed by all relevant export and import documentation as required by relevant CITES management authorities.

CITES species that lack required documents can be consider “illegally traded” and thus should be regarded as unwanted under the “Legality” criterion.

CITES Appendix II or III trade (where permitted under the sourcing policy) is backed by all relevant export and import documentation as required by relevant CITES management authorities covering both export and import.

More information on CITES here.

Same as source assessed.

Genetic Modification (GM):
Regarding whether the known source is from a forest that does not use GM trees.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

Evidence or a statement that the forest management enterprise does supply timber from GM trees.

 

Evidence or a statement is provided that the forest management enterprise does not supply timber from GM trees.

Local Conflicts:
Regarding whether the known source is a forest where there is no unresolved conflict concerning local or indigenous people or civil society groups.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed to period:

Absence of a process for conflict resolution
and absence of clear evidence that
demonstrates that a process has been developed.

 

 Clear evidence is provided that demonstrates
that a process for the resolution of the conflict
has been, or is being developed:
(a) identification of all local communities or traditional
and indigenous peoples in the forest management unit and adjacent area;
(b) documentation showing the forest management unit’s ownership or legal right to harvest;
(c) documentation recording traditional rights as identified by the communities and peoples
groups identified in (a);
(d) documented evidence of consultation with local communities or traditional and indigenous
peoples groups identified in (a);
(e) documented evidence of the process by which any disputes are being resolved, which has the broad support of the parties to the dispute, and which outlines an agreed-to interim process for addressing the dispute and for the management of the forest area concerned.

Documented evidence of any payments to local communities or traditional and indigenous peoples groups are fair, and obtained a Free, Prior and informed (FPIC) consent.

Traceability Issues:
Regarding the data supplied and its completeness.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

The supplier has not returned the questionnaire or has failed to complete it sufficiently within the specified time.

Product is traceable to the forest management unit to a degree of precision that is commensurate with the risk that the source may be unwanted. More information on data issues and suppliers here.

A 3rd party has verified that the material does not contain unwanted sources.

Information Disclosure Issues:
Regarding confidentiality or willingness to disclose the source.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

The supplier will not disclose the source (forest) of the forest product within the specified time.

Product is traceable to the forest management unit to a degree of precision that is commensurate with the risk that the source may be unwanted sourcing

More information on data issues and suppliers here.

 A 3rd party has verified that the material does not contain unwanted sources.

Integrity issues:
Regarding the integrity of the supplier and supplier data.

The supplier cannot identify where the timber was grown and cannot identify the harvesting entity.

After an agreed-to period:

Other sources of information continue to dispute the information provided by the supplier, and the supplier is unable to sufficiently refute these allegations to the sourcing organization’s satisfaction.

Product is traceable to the forest management unit to a degree of precision that is commensurate with the risk that the source may be unwanted sourcing

More information on data issues and suppliers here.

A 3rd party has verified that the material does not contain unwanted sources.”


5.1 Traceability

Establishing TraceabilityThis section provides practical guidance on ways of gathering and assessing data on suppliers, species and timber origin. The purpose of gathering data on species and timber origin is to enable a detailed assessment of the sourcing situation.

 

 

The data gathered is more comprehensive than the initial review, permitting the sourcing organization to demonstrate how policy is being realized through the supply chain and how, over time, the sourcing organization is improving its profile and promoting responsible forest management.

 

 

Timber Origin (Traceability)

Achieving Traceability Defining the Environmental Status of the Material

From the time the policy is implemented and, specifically, to set a baseline from which progress and compliance might be demonstrated, a tracking system must be developed that identifies:

 

  • Forest(s) of origin of the timber or fibre (where the wood was harvested)
  • Species of timber or fibre
  • Volume and value of that timber or fibre
  • Description of the product

 

Each forest source should fall into one of the following categories:

 

  • Limited knowledge of forest source
  • Source assessed
  • Source verified
  • Credibly certified or recycled source

 


3.0 Policy Development

Policy Development This section deals with the critical issue of how to develop a policy to promote responsible sourcing. This policy will dictate the activities that must be undertaken to deliver the objectives of the programme as a whole.


15.0 Supporting Information

 

Glossary

Questionnaires


3.1 Where to Start

Responsible Sourcing Policy DevelopmentThere is no right, wrong or perfect set of policies to underpin the effort to achieve more responsible sourcing of forest products. However, it is important that the policy be aligned with SMART targets (these types of targets are discussed later).

It is also important that policy makers consider the consequences of their policy prior to its implementation. Strong policies, for example, may have a financial cost that renders them unsustainable; and weak policies may attract criticism from stakeholder groups. Therefore, a workable balance must be struck. It is important for the values of stakeholders to be reflected within the policies developed.


8.3 Uncertified Timber - Reducing the Risk of Buying Illegal Wood

Reduce the Risk of Buying Illegal WoodIn an ideal world, as a sourcing organization, you would state that you did not want any illegal timber or timber products in your business's supply chain; you would then pass this specification to your suppliers and they would follow it. The outcome would be the delivery of legal timber and timber products.

In the absence of credible certification, a chain of custody; FSC Controlled Wood; third-party legal certification; or another form of certification that provides some assurance of basic legal compliance, the onus is on the purchaser to manage the risk of sourcing illegal wood. This process of due care or due diligence can be broken down in to a series of steps:

Suppliers in countries where significant volumes of illegal timber and timber products are traded often find delivering timber with legal verification very difficult. These suppliers often have little incentive to invest in legal verification systems. Their timber may be legal, but proving it takes significant extra effort and cost and therefore is not done. Suppliers can find it difficult to comply with the most basic requests for proof of legality for a range of reasons, such as the following:

In recognition of these realities, this section describes a four-step system to reduce the risk of having non certified timber that has been illegally harvested or traded enter your supply chain. The methodology is based on a range of practical experiences gained by traders, trade associations, and GFTN participants.

The next section outlines a systematic approach to evaluating the suppliers in your supply chains, including an assessment of the level of risk associated with each supplier and then, based on that information, the level or degree of legality verification needed. In addition, the methodology provides guidance on how to ensure that the timber arrives at the location you control without being substituted or diluted with illegal timber.


8.1 Certified Timber

FSC Certified Timber - The Least-Risk Option

The Least-Risk Option

The simplest way to answer the two questions is to buy timber that has been independently certified as coming from well-managed forests. Practically all forest certification standards require independent verifiers to confirm that the forest ownership, access and management is legal. Auditors will normally not carry out a “legality audit” as these are very specific assessments and can be complex and costly. During certification assessments the auditors will be making sure there is no evidence of significant breaches of the law. Chain-of-custody certificates answer the question, “How did it get here?” If purchasers can buy certified timber, the risk of trading in illegal timber will be managed and greatly reduced. The table below summarizes the various schemes’ ability to verify legality.

Certification Schemes as a Form of Verification of Legal Compliance

Certification Scheme

Checks Legal Right to Harvest and Significant Aspects of Legal Compliance

Achieves Traceability Through a Chain-of-Custody System

Requires Exclusion of Uncertified Material (From Potentially Illegal or Unwanted Sources) 

System for Controlling Uncertified Material (When Percentage Based Claims Are Used)

Value as a Form of Evidence of Legal Compliance

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Yes

Yes 

Yes

Yes—Controlled Wood Standard

High – No Extra Legality Related Checks Required.

Cerflor (Brazil) 

Yes

Yes

No

No

High For 100% Certified—No Extra Legality-Related Checks Required.

Certfor (Chile) 

Yes

No

Yes

No

Verification Needed for Non-Certified Percentage

Lembaga Ecolabel Indonesia (LEI) 

Yes

No

No

No

Chain–of-Custody  System Required

PEFC* - Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes

 

Yes

Yes

Varies

No

High for 100% Certified—No Extra Legality-Related Checks Required.

Verification Needed for Non-Certified Percentage

Sources: Compiled from UK Central Point of Expertise on Timber Procurement's (CPET) website; Forest Certification Resource Centre—Certification Comparison Matrix (Link no longer available); Reports from the ProForest Field Test of the Questionnaire to Assess the Comprehensiveness of Certification Systems/Schemes.

For other certification information you may go directly to the certification programme’s own websites:

* Note: Countries using this scheme with national endorsement: Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, France, Latvia, Czech, Switzerland, Belgium, UK, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Italy, Chile, Portugal, Canada, Luxemburg, Slovakia, US, Slovenia, Estonia & Poland

Note: Forest certification schemes and associated chain-of-custody systems constantly evolve in terms of their requirements. This table is believed to be correct at the time of publication. Please check with each certification system for new developments to ensure ongoing accuracy.

Note: No system can give 100 per cent guarantee as proof of legality on its own. All certification systems are implemented by people who on occasion make mistakes or who occasionally seek to mislead. Good certification systems find and fix these errors. Always check the certificate for scope and for validity. Do not assume that because a company has a Chain of Custody certificate that material purchased from this company is automatically certified.

Percentage Claims
All forest management certification schemes examined for preparation of this manual require compliance with relevant forest legislation. Some also provide a relatively high degree of assurance that the material covered by their chain-of-custody system is legal. The situation is made more complex, however, by “percentage claims”.

Percentage claims are permitted when it is accepted that it is impractical to demand that 100 per cent of a product be certified. This is commonly the case for products in which raw wood materials from many forest sources are mixed during manufacturing (for example, paper or plywood). In such cases, the authorities responsible for the governance of the various certification standards acknowledge that some mixing with non-certified material is inevitable. Percentages are normally set, with some material coming from certified sources and the remainder coming from non-audited sources. Credit based systems do not use percentages but, when operated correctly, should ensure that the volume claimed as credit is in no way associated with material that is illegal.

Though many of the certification programmes specify that illegal timber must be excluded from the non-certified percentage. This is verified through auditing against their Controlled Wood Standard. The FSC Controlled Wood Standard seeks to provide a framework by which non-FSC-certified timber (which will be mixed with FSC-certified timber when making percentage-based claims) can be assessed for legality (amongst other criteria). Several certifying bodies (organizations that certify forest management against the standards listed in the table above) have created verification programmes to assess legality alone (i.e. excluding the non-legal aspects of the applicable standard).


13.3 Example of an Action Plan and Targets for a Responsible Purchaser

The initial assessment of the supply chain indicates the baseline from which annual targets have been set, as shown below:

Overall Performance Targets

Category  Proportion of Forest Products in Supply Chain Year 1 Target Year 2 Target Year 3 Target
Unknown/Unwanted 45% 0% 0% 0%
Step 1: Known Sources 25% 20% 5% 0%
Step 2: Known Licensed Sources 25% 50% 35% 10%
Step 3: Sources in Progress to Certification 5% 15% 30% 40%
Step 4: Credibly Certified Sources / Recycled 0% 15% 30% 50%

Based on this annual assessment and subsequent discussions with stakeholders, the following targets and actions are agreed to.

Year One Action Plan

Action No.

Action

Activities

Target Date

1.

Reduce unwanted sources to zero from 45%

  • Resend questionnaires to suppliers that have not responded.
  • Ensure that all suppliers that have responded have fully completed the questionnaire.
  • Re-source to known and managed operations any forest products that come from (1) HCVFs that are neither certified nor scheduled for certification or (2) inappropriate land clearance projects.
  • De-list suppliers that do not conform to this policy.

End of Year 1

2.

Reduce the known sources category to 20%

  • Require all suppliers with unknown sources to provide documents and assurances to confirm that their timber is from known sources.
  • Within six months, hold a seminar for suppliers (with the help of third parties such as WWF) to discuss methods of improving traceability to established a minimum of known sources.

End of Year 1

3.

Increase the "known licensed source" category to 50%

  • Require all current suppliers with known sources to provide documents and assurances to confirm that their timber is from known licensed sources.
  • Within six months, hold a seminar for suppliers (with the help of third parties such as WWF) to discuss methods of ascertaining the legality of forest products.
  • Fund research to identify legal compliance best practice for suppliers in key countries where issues have been raised.

End of Year 1

4.

Increase the "sources in progress to certification" category to 15%

  • Require major suppliers to bring pressure on their affiliates to join a stepwise certification programme such as GFTN.
  • Require medium-size suppliers to ensure that their sources proceed with certification. This will require that the secondary source first undergo successful preassessment from an independent certifier. All parties will enter into a contractual agreement on this basis.

End of Year 1

5.

Increase the "certified" category to 15% or more

  • Identify potential new suppliers of certified forest products and requesting that they tender for existing business.
  • Undertake new product development that permits the early consideration of the use of certified forest products.
  • Attend at least two major trade shows at which certified forest product suppliers are present.
  • Contact certified suppliers to identify potential opportunities for doing business with them.

End of Year 1

6.

Increase transparency and capacity

  • Publicly report data and performance year on year (in annual report/Web site)
  • Publicly report targets (in annual report/Web site)
  • Publicly report policies (in annual report /Web site)
  • Verify all externally presented data (using a third party)
  • Hold supplier and staff training and conferences (all trading and technical staff, 50% of suppliers, and two conferences)

End of Year 1 and on-going.


0.0 Introduction

IntroductionSince the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) first published its Guide to Responsible Sourcing of Forest Products and the closely associated Keep It Legal manual as paper documents, there have been numerous developments that resulted in this revision. The main change is the development of these web pages, which are searchable and easier to maintain—allowing the GFTN to continue to offer the best advice available.

These pages contain numerous links to other websites, many of which are external. As such, we are not responsible for the content, but believe these sites to offer greater depth to the understanding of aspects of responsible sourcing of forest products.

There have also been numerous developments within the sphere of legality of forest products. Legislative processes in the US, Europe and Australia and developments within certification and chain of custody have all prompted us to enhance the advice available regarding legality.

The ability to print most sections of these pages and to search a number of key terms is intended to allow you as the user to both take in the overall concepts and easily find what you need on specific topics.

Who Should Use These Pages

These pages are designed for use by a sourcing organization that wishes to develop a due diligence system for the legal and responsible sourcing of forest products. The guide lays out a generic approach for the development and implementation of a responsible sourcing policy, hereafter referred to as a responsible sourcing programme.

The guide is aimed at any medium-size or large enterprise, including primary mills, secondary processors, importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, which purchase or procure forest products. In appropriate circumstances, it may also serve to guide smaller enterprises.

The guide outlines the various ways in which sourcing organizations can exercise due diligence and demonstrate compliance with best practice based on compliance with their own sourcing policies. It is based on both tried and tested mechanisms and extensive experience in the development of responsible sourcing programmes.

The principles outlined within this guide are in line with the GFTN Participation Rules; and as such, the guide should help GFTN Trade Participants meet their participation requirements. All GFTN Trade Participants are advised to refer also to the specific guidance issued by their local GFTN manager. Where advice is specific to GFTN participants, there are links to relevant documents or additional guidance.

The original paper versions of these two guides are still available as downloads (PDF) and the following pages are printable. Every effort has been made to retain the core information of the previous published documents and changes have only been made where circumstances, processes or legislation has changed.

The implementation of a responsible sourcing programme to demonstrate due diligence is a major undertaking for any organization and requires a high degree of commitment to achieve results. This guide outlines a set of processes and procedures by which a sourcing organization can begin to address the problems that are common to many supply chains.

The first two paper-based versions of this guidance have been widely distributed in a number of languages and are currently used by several hundred companies representing the whole supply chain from the forest floor to the retail store. The guidance has been adopted by companies sourcing products as varied as paper and plywood to sawn timber and furniture. Although designed primarily for companies that are participants in the Global Forest & Trade Network, it has also been welcomed by companies choosing to work outside this network.

Purchasers of pulp and paper based products are advised to also consult WWF’s guidance with respect to these products where further aspects of production, beyond fibre sourcing are addressed. Further information can be found here.


4.0 Communications

CommunicationsKey Points - Communications


13.2 Setting Targets

The purchasing organization should set two types of targets: one for their supplier and the other for themselves.

Action Plans and Targets for Suppliers

Reviewing and Improving the  Programme

The action plan for an individual supplier should be based on the responses given to the questionnaire. To fully understand the issues raised by the questionnaire, the suppliers should discuss them with the purchasing organization and develop a mutually agreed-upon action plan.

There is no need for a complete overhaul of the relationship if the problems highlighted by the questionnaire relate only to a narrow area of the business. The action plan should define exactly what is required for the supplier's business to meet the needs of the purchasing organization.

A good action plan should be SMART:

 

Internal Action Plans and Targets

It is important that progress be demonstrated to internal and external audiences. Progress in two areas in particular is measurable and demonstrable, namely increases in the proportion of credibly certified forest products in the purchasing organization's portfolio of sources and decreases in the proportion of unwanted or illegally sourced forest products.

The purchasing organization's performance against its policies and programs should be reviewed periodically, and new targets should be set for the next period of activity.

A purchasing organization that is a participant in the GFTN will have an opportunity to agree on an action plan with the local GFTN manager.

In all cases, the purchasing organization should look for ways to eliminate unwanted sources and increase all other source categories. Pursuit of this policy should, step by step, enable all sources other than those that are credibly certified to be eliminated from the supply chain.

When agreeing on an action plan with the supplier, the purchasing organization should be realistic in setting targets. An action plan can be determined and agreed to only when the first period of data collection and assessment of sources is complete. This may be as late as the end of the first year of operating a responsible purchasing policy. Ultimately, a realistic plan is one that is based firmly on the aspirations of the organization's own policies and on the informed assessment of the status of the supply chain.

The overall intentions of the internal targets can perhaps be visualized as in the diagram. This example is for a period of seven years and is for illustrative purposes only.




This is an excerpt from WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) Guide to Responsible Purchasing. All rights reserved. © WWF. The full text can be accessed online at rpg.gftn.panda.org.
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