EUTR, legal timber, FLEGT and Chain of Custody

What is the EU Timber Regulation?

The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) came into force in the UK on 3 March 2013. It prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber on the EU market and lays out the procedures which those trading timber within the EU must put in place to minimise the risk of illegal timber being sold. It is the first piece of legislation in the EU to prohibit the trade in illegal timber, and should be the final nail in the coffin of illegal timber in the EU.

All UK timber importers are mandated to adequately check the legality of the timber before placing it on the EU market. Over 70% of timber brought into the UK is proven as not only legal, but responsibly sourced, with thousands of companies now having achieved Chain of Custody Certification.

What does my joinery business need to do to comply with the EUTR?

Most UK joinery businesses will find that the transactions they made were already compliant with the EUTR. This is because companies trading in timber and timber products within the EU must essentially just keep records of sale and purchase. Their obligations under Article 5 of the Regulation concern traceability and are as follows:

1. To identify the operators or the traders who have supplied the timber and timber products.

2. To identify, where applicable, the traders to whom you have supplied timber and timber products.

3. To keep this information for at least five years and provide it to competent authorities if they so request.

Companies bringing timber products in directly from outside the EU will need to have a due diligence system in place even for one-off transactions and cannot rely on suppliers to carry this out on their behalf. The system must include information about the supply of timber products, an evaluation of the risk of placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the market and necessary steps to mitigate this risk; for example additional information and third party verification. Although bringing in certified timber from the major responsible sourcing schemes (FSC ® and PEFC for example) does go some way to mitigating the risk of illegal timber, a company placing their timber and timber products on the EU market would still have to carry out the due diligence process or risk prosecution.

Here you can find out more about what joinery manufacturers need to do to meet the EU Timber Regulation and how easy it has been. BWF has provided guidance, FAQs and a template due diligence system that member joinery companies who will be first to place wood based products on the EU market can use before buying their products in order to stay on top of the rules.

What is FLEGT Timber?

The EU is one of the largest consumers of timber products in the world. EU companies and governments that buy timber and timber products from suppliers in Africa, Asia or South America can have a significant impact in stamping out illegal logging and encouraging sustainable forestry.

The EU makes treaties with timber-producing countries that export timber and timber products to the EU. These are called VPAs. A country that has a VPA and an operational licensing system can issue FLEGT licences for legally produced timber and timber products.

All timber and timber products with a FLEGT licence automatically comply with the EU Timber Regulation. This means that when purchasing FLEGT-licensed timber, EU operators do not need to carry out additional due diligence checks. Indonesia is the first country to begin FLEGT licensing.

How will Brexit affect the EUTR?

A number of surveys have found significant majorities of voters across the political divide wanting EU environmental regulations to be maintained or even strengthened in the wake of Brexit. But if the principles of the EUTR are to be retained post-Brexit then some technical adjustments to the rules will clearly be needed at the very least.

Speaking at the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) reception in February 2018, Environment Minister Dr Thérèse Coffey MP showed her support for the EUTR saying: “When we leave the EU, the Withdrawal Bill will make sure the whole body of European environmental law continues to have effect in UK law. This means bringing into UK law two regulations that the UK timber sector played a great role in shaping: the European Union Timber Regulation and the Forest Law Environment Governance and Trade Regulation."

Find out more about the EUTR and Chain of Custody

Our 14 minute audio presentation and slideshow answers your FAQs on the EU Timber regulation and Chain of Custody certification. It covers why the EU timber regulation is so significant for manufacturers and suppliers of timber products, what the penalties for non-conformance could be, and it explains the benefits of FSC ® or PEFC Chain of Custody certification in ensuring traceability along the supply chain.

The demand for certified timber is increasing as more and more contractors, house builders and government procurers are insisting on it. FSC ® and PEFC certification can also go part way to meeting the due diligence risk mitigation criteria required under the EU timber regulations for ‘operators’ placing their timber and timber products on the EU market. You can find more detail on FSC ® and PEFC Chain of Custody by following the link on the left hand side.

For more information on getting FSC ® or PEFC Chain of Custody Certification, read about the BWF's Group Scheme, which enables companies of 15 or fewer employees to get FSC ® certification at a reduced rate. We've now extended the scheme to allow  companies with 50 or fewer employees to get  PEFC Chain of Custody certification.


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