Finnish forest industry’s chain of custody monitoring systems provide a good model for EU legislation

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The Finnish forest industry has already established chain of custody tracing systems, which verify the legal origin of timber.

The Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan being developed by the EU is due for implementation in 2013. Its purpose is to prevent the importing and utilisation of unlawfully felled timber and products made out of it within the EU.

A party, which imports timber or wood products into the EU, must guarantee the legal origin of the timber in question. An agreement on how to verify the legal origin of wood in practice once the FLEGT regulations are implemented has not yet been made.

FLEGT regulations impose an obligation to evaluate the risk of illegality associated with timber or wood products. The legality-verification measures that will be required under the fresh legislation should be proportionate to the assessed risk.

Awareness of origin enables verification of legality – Finnish systems for a basis
 
A system for tracing the origin of timber is required for verifying the legality of wood and wood procurement. The cost-effectiveness of the new legislation would benefit if the solutions already utilised by the forest industry – which are the end result of long-term development efforts – can be used to fulfil legally imposed requirements.

The forest industry of Finland uses legally obtained timber

The Finnish forest industry knows the origin of both the domestic and foreign timber it uses. Good forest legislation, effective oversight of its implementation and comprehensive forest certification ensure the lawful origin of domestic timber.

Finnish forest industry companies have been engaged in long-term development efforts since the 1990s to ensure the legality of timber imported from, for example, Russia. The FLEGT regulations about to be implemented demonstrate that the past decision to develop chain of custody systems for timber was correct and far-sighted.

Awareness of the origin of raw materials is a fundamental prerequisite of sustainable forest utilisation. In addition to this, forest certification can be used to verify that timber is sourced from a sustainably managed forest.

Further information:
Jukka Halonen, Manager (Russian Affairs), Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6682,  +358 50 591 1090

Anu Islander, Senior Adviser (Forestry), Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6678, +358 40 729 3678