Timber legality legislation
Complying with timber legality legislation is an essential component of FSC certification. In fact, compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally ratified international treaties, conventions and agreements is our first principle of responsible forest management.
All countries with forests have rules for forest ownership and management, and trade, but the level of enforcement of these rules varies across the globe.
For this reason, several governments have adopted ‘legislation for timber legality' since 2008. These are laws that ban the trading of timber that is harvested illegally anywhere on the planet. To prevent the purchase and sale of timber products connected to illegal harvesting, these governments require companies to apply due diligence.
UK & EU Timber Regulations
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) came into force on 3 March 2013, making it illegal to place illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market. On 1 January 2021, EUTR became UK domestic legislation as the UK Timber Regulations (UKTR), which have the same requirements as current EU systems. These regulations affect all those that first place timber on the EU or UK markets as well as traders further down the supply chain.
EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR)
The EUDR will prohibit placing products linked to deforestation and forest degradation on the EU market. FSC has actively and constructively supported the development of the EUDR from its inception. We will continue to work with the European Comission and Competent Authorities to ensure that the details are clear, appropriate and enforceable consistently. We believe that Voluntary Sustainability Schemes, such as FSC certification, provide a strong foundation for businesses to build their compliance systems. For more information on FSC's role in EUDR, you can watch this recent webinar recording.
FSC and due diligence
Organisations carrying out due diligence for EUTR and UKTR can use FSC certification as a key element of risk assessment and mitigation. However, trading in FSC-certified materials does not result in exemption from the due diligence required. FSC can already be used as a tool to help companies meet some of the EUDR due diligence obligations at both risk assessment and risk mitigation phases, without exempting companies from their obligations.
FAQs - UKTR and FSC
How can FSC certification be used in UKTR assessment and mitigation?
FSC is a useful tool for risk mitigation but is not an automatic green lane for either EUTR or UKTR. UKTR requirements remain the same as EUTR in this respect. FSC certification is a good way of demonstrating you have mitigated risks in your supply chain. However, if you simply submitted an FSC certificate in itself as a due diligence system then this would not be considered sufficient. But if you have all relevant information and evidence of where your timber comes from, an FSC certificate attached to that and evidence that the timber is FSC certified can be a way of demonstrating that risks have been mitigated. It should be noted that individual FSC certificates only cover one part of a supply chain and will only apply to the products and species within scope. Even if a product is within scope, it is still important to ensure that FSC certification has been requested, as companies may sell both FSC and non-FSC products, or even certified and uncertified versions of the same product.
If FSC certification is not a green lane then what extra information is needed?
In addition to ensuring FSC certification, you would need to perform due diligence on your imports – to have all relevant information regarding the species and location of its harvest, and any documentation related to its transit and perform a risk analysis. If the risks are found to be non-negligible then you would need to demonstrate that the risk has been mitigated, which may include evidence of FSC certification. There is a requirement under the FSC chain of custody standard that obligates FSC certificate holders to provide information on species and country of harvest, where this is required in order to comply with legislation, such as UKTR.
As an operator under UKTR, would full compliance with evaluating non-certified and certified timber via an FSC Controlled Wood Risk assessment, for example, be acceptable?
You would need to perform a risk assessment not only on the where the timber is harvested but also on those countries in which the product is traded or processed. If the risks are not negligible then you would need to mitigate these risks. Other processes, such as FSC certification, may assist in mitigating that risk to negligible.
Does FSC have any plans for FSC certification to cover the whole supply chain and become a green lane to UKTR/EUTR?
It is up to the relevant policy owners to decide how (FSC) certification can be used to meet timber legislation. FSC works to ensure it meets the requirements for certification schemes to be considered applicable to risk mitigation etc. under timber legislation.
If all links in the supply chain are confirmed, and invoices are provided linking each supplier, and you obtain FSC certificates for each supplier, with scopes checked, would this be a good demonstration of mitigation and verification?
It would be a good demonstration of information gathering and risk analysis, whether anything else would be required to demonstrate negligible risk would be specific to the supply chain in question and the potential risks identified within it.