The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) FAQ

The EUTR came into force on March 3rd 2013 and makes it an offence to place illegally harvested timber products on the EU market.

It is the aim of the EUTR that good practice and high standards of legality assurance will be driven back down the supply chain in cases where insufficient attention is currently paid to issues of legality.

Q. What products are covered?

A. All timber products; unprinted paper and stationery; printed or unprinted packaging (including wooden cases and pallets) which is supplied as a product in its own right (i.e. not in use to pack other products). Printed publications are exempt. There are currently some exceptions (e.g. charcoal) and some anomalies and there may be updates issued by the EU to deal with these. The products covered by the EUTR are covered by certain standard customs codes listed in an annex to Regulation (EU) No 995/2010.

Q. Who is affected?

A . All those who bring any of the above products into the EU for sale or for use in their own business, also known as 'operators' or 'first placers' in EU terminology, including agents other than those who only arrange shipping. Those who buy and sell products already imported are classed as ‘traders’ and will only be required to keep records of what they buy, and who their suppliers and customers are (normal business practice, in other words).

Q. Who is responsible for enforcing the EUTR?

A. Each EU state has appointed a ‘Competent Authority’ (CA) to investigate complaints and prosecute breaches of the EUTR. In the UK it is the National Measurements Office (NMO). In other countries it may be the environment ministry or similar.

Q. As an operator, what must I do to comply?

A. You must undertake Due Diligence to establish that all the products you place on the EU market, which are subject to the EUTR, carry a negligible risk of illegal origin. You may either develop your own system or use one provided by a Monitoring Organisation (MO). There are three elements to Due Diligence:

a. Information gathering: all details of the supply of timber, including the species, country (and if relevant, region) of harvest, quantity and relevant documents indicating legality of harvest.

b. Risk Assessment: taking account of prevalence of illegal harvesting in the country/region of origin, or of that particular species of timber, and assurances of compliance with applicable legislation.

c. Risk Mitigation: the measures taken to reduce any identified risk to a point where it can be considered negligible. If this is not possible, then the supply should be rejected.

Q. What is a Monitoring Organisation?

A. A Monitoring Organisation (MO) is a body (such as a certification body) that has been approved by the EU as providing an effective Due Diligence System (DDS). MOs are required to alert the Competent Authority to any breaches of the EUTR by their clients. Woodmark is applying to become an MO.

Q. What does the Woodmark DDS provide?

A. It provides everything you need to set up your DDS system and record all your timber-based products and to decide which (if any) have a risk of illegal origin. It guides you step by step through a Risk Mitigation process to help you make a decision about accepting or rejecting a supplier. A Statement will be provided to show that you have successfully been assessed but it does not constitute a formal guarantee that all your products are 100% legal – the responsibility remains with you.

Q. What will it cost?

A. Because there is huge variation in the complexity of supply chains, number of high risk products and number of countries of origin, we need some information before we can provide a quote. We can provide an introductory pre-assessment to discuss your needs and there are preferential rates for our existing FSC and PEFC certification clients.

Q. What definition of ‘legal timber’ is used?

A. Legally harvested timber has been produced in accordance with all forest-related legislation in the country of origin. So the definition and the documentation required vary from country to country. Typically, the legislation covers:

a. The right to harvest timber within a defined area;

b. Payment of taxes and duties;

c. Compliance with forest management and environmental legislation;

d. Compliance with export and customs requirements.

e. Laws originating from outside the country of harvest such as UN embargoes.

This is a very brief summary. Also, in many places endemic corruption means that documents can’t be fully relied on and further risk mitigation and second or third party audits may be required. Woodmark has Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) standard for both forests and processors/traders which can be used to provide assurance of legality – please contact us for details.

Q. If everything is going to be legal, will we still need certification?

A. Yes! Legality only covers basic issues and varies according to national laws. Many social and environmental aspects, vital to the continued wellbeing of forests and people, are not covered. Legality may be difficult to prove, where supply chains are complex, and legality alone does not confer the benefit of a trusted logo to use on products.

Q. All my products are FSC® or PEFC™ certified, but I keep hearing that this is not good enough. What should I do?

A . Both FSC and PEFC are making changes or supplements to their standards to ensure that certification is compliant with EUTR requirements. FSC now has an advice note which applies to all countries affected by legality legislation (EU, US, Australia and New Zealand) covering requirements for information on species and origin, the ending of minor components, and trade and customs laws. It is clear that certified products do have a negligible risk of illegality, unless there are specific problems - which it would be your responsibility to know about. The EU view is that no scheme can ever be a 100% guarantee of legality so there can be no ‘green lane’. Operators who deal only in certified products are still required to have a DDS, but it will be simple.

Q. I thought all timber exporting countries were going to have a system of export licences to prove legality?

Many major timber producing countries in Africa, Asia and South America are taking part in Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) - programmes which will eventually lead to legality licences for their exports, known as FLEGT licences. But, in most cases, these will not be in place for some years. For more information and updates on progress seehttp://www.euflegt.efi.int/portal/home/vpa_countries/ Timber species that are subject to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) rules are considered to be EUTR compliant if the correct paperwork is in place.

Q. What about timber produced within the UK or other EU states?

A. Home grown (or other EU grown) timber will be subject to the EUTR requirements. Proof of compliance with other legal requirements, such as employment and tax law, will be needed in addition to felling licences and proof of purchase of standing timber. There may be some countries within the EU where there are forest governance issues or potential corruption and where further risk mitigation is required. Note that standing timber is not subject to the EUTR so if the owner cuts and sells it, they become the operator, but if it is sold as standing timber to a contractor, it is the contractor who is the operator.

Q. If documents can’t be relied on, or if my supplier won’t provide them, what can I do?

A. You can look for certified or low risk products instead, or you can ask your suppliers to consider third party Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC). Woodmark has VLC standards for forests and for chain of custody – please see http://www.sacert.org/woodmark/verificationoflegalcompliance or ask us for more details. Our VLC standards have been assessed by the European Timber Trade Federation as fully meeting EUTR requirements. As with COC, the VLC chain must start at the forest and it is not possible to carry out VLC if the timber has not got legal verification from source. However, our COC VLC (CVLC) can include verified legal timber from other credible 3rd party schemes and allow you to sell and promote VLC products.

Q. Which are low risk countries to buy from?

A. Potentially, any country could have a risk of incidences of illegality but there are some useful indicators available. One is the Global Risk Register http://www.globalforestregistry.org/ which is used in FSC Controlled Wood assessments. Others include the Corruption Perception Index – a rating above 5 indicates that there is a risk of corruption. For more information see http://cpi.transparency.org/

Q. Who should I contact if I am interested in discussing DDS or VLC with Woodmark?

A . Contact Beck Woodrow bwoodrow@soilassociation.org

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