SGS Releases Article on Origin of Timber, Paper and other Forest Products


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The certification of timber, paper and other forest products is a success story, with the area of certified forest and the number of certificates in the supply chain steadily increasing. Certification cannot, however, satisfy the increasing demand for information concerning the geographical origin of the wood. Furthermore, there is a limit to the number of certified products that can be made available. Complementary systems, such as online databases and timber due diligence schemes, may be the answer to filling this void.

Certification schemes verify that an organization is following the correct procedures relating to purchasing, processing and trading wood and timber products (CoC). However, no information regarding timber flow is retained and data, such as the geographical origin of the harvested trees, is not necessarily passed along the supply chain. The system provides assurance that the timber is obtained from responsible sources but no more specific information.

Online Claim Platform
The FSC has tried to address this problem by creating its Online Claim Platform (OCP). This system collects information on the trading of all certified materials, allowing sellers and buyers to confirm deals. This allows certified organizations to access information relating to geographical origin but only independent control organizations are given access to information about the timber flow supply chain. The timber and paper industries are not currently willing to introduce such a system, stating concerns over confidentiality and security, as well as a fear of additional administrative costs.

Timber Due Diligence
Timber Due Diligence schemes ensure that non-certified components do not originate from controversial sources, but certification systems do not allow that products which only consist only of such non-controversial and controlled sources are labelled. This would be in direct competition to the certified materials and undermine the reason for Forest Management Certification.

European Timber Regulations
In March 2015, European Timber Regulation (EUTR 995/2010) came into force and includes prescriptions concerning Timber Due Diligence. It requires organizations placing timber products on the European market for the first time (so named Operators) to conduct Due Diligence on their origin.

The EU intends to prevent the import of timber that has been:
• Illegally harvested or traded
• Taken from regions with armed conflicts
• Traded from regions where export bans are in force

Implementing Due Diligence Systems
All Timber Due Diligence systems have a similar structure. To verify due diligence, an organization must demonstrate it has:

1. Gathered relevant information on species and geographical origin
2. Conducted a risk assessment, considering topics such as governance in the country of origin, the rarity or endangered status of the species
3. Mitigated all risks, if they have been identified

Without global coverage for forestry management schemes, Timber Due Diligence of Origin systems are an important and practical step towards assuring end-users that the wood in their products does not come from illegal or controversial sources.

Read the full article here:

For further information, please contact:

Christian Kobel
Business Manager, Forestry
t: +41 78 621 75 52

About SGS
SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.
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