The unsustainable and often illegal logging of timber represents a major threat to tropical forest ecosystems and associated biodiversity. Illegal logging also threatens the livelihoods of local communities and undermines the efforts of both private and public sector organisations to develop sustainable approaches to forest management. At the same time, there is increasing demand among buyers of timber and other forest products that are verified as having been procured legally and certified as sustainably produced.
An important element of this work is helping governments and businesses to be clear on legality and associated sustainability requirements in line with meeting these objectives. Among the activities being undertaken in association with the GFTN, therefore, is the elaboration of a common framework for addressing legality in key trading countries, particularly in developing countries with high biodiversity forests where illegal logging and trade are known to be a significant concern. GFTN/TRAFFIC's Common Legality Framework is comprised of several broad principles of legality, each supported by several criteria and indicators linking the principle to existing legislation.
Development of the Framework was started in June 2006. The preceding Indonesian legality standard, developed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 2004 with funding from DFID UK, the result of two years of extensive and wide-ranging stakeholder consultation, was considered a solid starting point from which to tailor appropriate frameworks in other countries.
The following sections outline the process used in the development of the Framework and provides a set of national indicators, verifiers and guidance for a number countries. The Framework is a helpful tool for companies who wish to perform their own checks of suppliers, brief a third-party verifier or to meet customer requirements as well as for stakeholders involved in national legality definition processes. The Common Framework will also allow companies to understand and view at a glance the relevant legislations as captured in each of the Principles across all their country sources and buyers where national legality compilations has been completed for the Common Framework. Where no national legislative compilation using the Common Framework has been completed, the Framework should still allow companies to ask similar questions of their supply chain to help in legal compliance.
Funding for the elaboration of the Common Legality Framework for timber trading countries in Asia and Africa was provided to WWF by the European Commission Programme on Environment in Developing Countries and Programme on Tropical Forests and other Forests in Developing Countries, as part of a wider programme of work on certification and verification of forest products. TRAFFIC, a strategic alliance of WWF and IUCN, led the development of the Common Framework, working in collaboration with local stakeholders in each country.