Forests area: 303 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): 18,800
The European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) entered the statute book in March 2013 and prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber on the European market.
It sets out requirements that companies within the European Union (EU) must meet to minimise the risk of illegal timber being traded. More specifically, the Regulation requires companies placing timber or timber products on the European market (both imported and domestic) for the first time to implement a Due Diligence System (DDS).
The EUTR Guidance document contains criteria that companies may use to assess the credibility of a third-party certification system such as PEFC. PEFC fulfils these EUTR requirements for third-party certification systems.
Companies trading wood products within the EU are responsible for keeping records of their suppliers and customers to allow for traceability. The Regulation also affects companies outside the EU as their products may be imported into the EU further down the supply chain. The EUTR covers a broad range of timber products including solid wood products, flooring, plywood, pulp and paper.
The EUTR Due Diligence system (DDS) includes the following three elements to minimize the risk that timber products come from illegal harvesting:
Information: Companies must have access to information specifying the timber and timber products, country of harvest, species, quantity, details of the supplier and information on compliance with national legislation.
Risk assessment: Based on the information provided and criteria set out in the EUTR, companies must assess the risk of illegal timber in their supply chain. Supplies with "negligible" risk may be traded further.
Risk mitigation: In case of "non-negligible" risk of timber products being illegal, risk mitigation measures can minimize the risk effectively. Measures may range from requiring additional information from suppliers and/or requesting the supplier to obtain PEFC certification for example.
For PEFC-certified companies, compliance with EUTR is straightforward: the 2013 PEFC Chain of Custody standard with its integral PEFC Due Diligence System (PEFC DDS) is fully aligned with the Regulation.
As all PEFC-certified companies were required to implement the 2013 Standard by 24 February 2014, PEFC Chain of Custody certification represents an efficient tool to assist with compliance of EUTR requirements along the entire supply chain.
PEFC Chain of Custody certification is therefore a viable option for currently uncertified companies, independent of whether they are already subject to the Regulation or wishing to prepare for future business opportunities with EU-based customers.
FLEGT aims to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber. The EUTR and VPAs work together to combat illegal logging and improve forest governance. They are both part of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan.
Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are a central element of the EU's strategy in the fight against illegal logging. A VPA is a bilateral trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU and aims to guarantee that any wood exported from a timber-producing country to the EU comes from legal sources. It also aims to help the partner country stop illegal logging by improving forest governance and regulation
VPAs are voluntary for timber-exporting countries. However, once a VPA has entered into force, it is legally binding on both sides. Under the VPA, the timber-producing country develops systems to verify that its timber exports are legal, and the EU agrees to accept only licensed imports from that country.