Certification schemes

Note:While wood that has been certified or verified against one of the certification/verification systems indicates a lower risk of illegal timber entering the EU market, it is not valid proof of legality.  Only FLEGT-licensed timber and those with CITES permits meet this criteria.   However, they do indicate negligible risk provided those schemes cover the applicable legislation in force in the country of harvest. For FLEGT and CITES see here.

Certification schemes have not necessarily covered all the bases as far as the EUTR is concened when it comes to gathering information on tree species and country of origin for certain porducts.  PEFC and FSC are currently reviewing their systems to improve these areas.  In any event you should ask your supplier to provide these details - species includes common and scientific name and for country of origin you want to know as well the region,.area and mill for example.     

Where products from a supplier are said to be from a certified source, you should check the supplier’s documentation to confirm that they are credible and supplied as certified under a chain of custody and the COC has not been broken.  Check:

Forest certification schemes
Forest certification schemes are independent parties issuing a certification, which verifies that an area of forest is managed to defined environmental and social standards and in compliance with relevant laws.  They have a role in establishing a negligible risk of illegal timber in the supply chain and is an important consideration in the risk assessment, 

Certification schemes with chain of custody (COC) requirements oblige certificate holders to track all of their logs from certified forests if their products are to be sold as certified. All entities that handle that timber along the supply chain are required to ensure they do not mix certified timber with uncertified or illegally sourced timber.

It is only by receiving certified timber and timber products with an unbroken COC for those products that certification can assist organization in meeting the requirements of the Regulation.

However, there can be no guarantees that any scheme ever completely excludes unwanted products from the supply chain.

The two forest certification schemes that are indicated to meet the UK government’s criteria are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

How to check FSC and PEFC certification of timber and wood products?

If you are purchasing timber and timber products from a supplier who is not directly certified but who claims their supply is, you may be able to show that it meets the requirements for legality and sustainability. See CPET for advice on broken chain of custody.

For a review of forest certification schemes.

Controlled wood and wood from non controversial sources standards
These schemes can assist in establishing negligible risk,  FSC and PEFC operate systems that control non-certified wood entering a COC system.  FSC controlled wood or PEFC due diligence system (DDS) material is different to FSC/PEFC certified timber in that it might not originate from a forest certified against a full forest management standard but it has come from a forest or forest region that has been risk assessed against a number of criteria including legality.

If you are an operator purchasing FSC controlled wood or PEFC DDS material for inclusion into your supply chain or for onward sale your supplier is required to correspondingly hold a FSC controlled wood or PEFC DDS COC. This is indicated, for example, by the letters CW/COC within an FSC certificate number.

Monitored or stepwise approaches to certification
Theses establish the origin of timber and legality as a starting point. Although these programmes are not legality verification programmes, forest members do have to demonstrate legal compliance as part of the validation towards forest certification and so they are relevant to the Regulation and establishing negligible risk.

Examples include:
The WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) Sound Forest Management,
The Rainforest Alliance, Smartstep – A Stepwise Approach toward FSC Forest Management Certification
The Forest Trust (TFT)

An operator can confirm if their supplier is a member of either scheme through:
Smartstep
WWF GFTN
TFT

See also Legal assurance schemes.

Other sources that may help with information / verification
Timber Trade Federation 
Timber Forest Trust 
Ecolabel 
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Chatham House
The Transparency Organisation