Imported wood from Baltic States and Russia has an important role in the Finnish forest industry. Knowing the origin of the imported wood raw material is crucial. Forest industry companies want to secure that the wood comes from sustainably managed forests, it is legally logged and it does not come from protected areas.
The wood raw material imported by Finnish forest industry companies comes from law-abiding felling operations. “Member companies of our Federation examine the origins of wood raw materials imports and verifies legality. The origins of wood are verified according to certified quality and environment systems, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and EMAS. Certification means that an independent third party has inspected the functionality of a system,” says Head of Forest Policy Hannu Valtanen of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
“The forest industry’s production operations need more logs than is sold from Finnish forests, which is why the sector imports wood,” Valtanen says. “Over a fifth of the wood raw materials used by the industry are imports, the majority of which come from Russia and the Baltic States.”
Location of the felling sites to be reported
Companies draw supply contracts with timber importers. “The supplier signs a commitment to inform the buyer about the origins of the sold timber. The contract also obliges the supplier to comply with environmental standards on felling accepted by Finnish forest industry companies,” Valtanen says.
Suppliers provide buyers with detailed felling site coordinates relating to a batch of imported timber. The location is subject to special scrutiny if felling is done near a nature conservation area. Felling permit allowed by the Russian authorities verifies the legality of the batch of imported wood.
Information provided by suppliers inspected on-site
Forest industry companies perform on-site inspections in order to confirm the information provided by suppliers. These inspections focus on felling sites and the silviculture measures carried out at them. Details on batches of wood supplied are entered into the buyer’s database and mapping system that also contains information on conservation areas. This makes an effective way to verify that the felling was done legally and in accordance with the felling permit.
On-site inspections and audits are done most often at felling sites operated by the most significant suppliers and the newest cooperation partners. Inspection efforts are stepped up if faults are discovered in a supplier’s practices. In addition to representatives of Finnish forest industry companies, on-site inspections are carried out by impartial certification organisations that audit verification systems.
Verifying the legality of imported wood is a part of corporate governance
Hannu Valtanen says that for the forest sector, a stable society is the basic requirement for a good operating and investment environment. Good corporate governance and respect for the law are essential aspects of this.
“Although forest industry companies do much to ensure the legality of imported timber, their operating environments also need to be developed. In order to safeguard the operating environment, the EU, for example, should concentrate strongly on promoting good corporate governance in countries that are still developing in this respect. Good corporate governance poses a challenge to society at large, not just the forest sector,” Hannu Valtanen says.
Hannu Valtanen, Senior Vice President, Forest Policy, Finnish Forest Industries Federation
Tel. +358 9 132 6610
Finnish forest industry companies use about 75 million cubic metres of wood each year. Domestic wood accounted for 57.6 million and imports for 17.4 million cubic metres in 2004. One million cubic metres were exported. Finland’s forest resources are growing continuously. Last year, total growth amounted to 83 million cubic metres while total drain was 73 million cubic metres. Drain comprises industrial felling, cutting firewood, logging residues as well as trees that are dying and rotting.