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 secure that the wood comes from sustainably managed forests, it is legally logged and it does not come from protected areas.
Since the 1990s, Finnish forest industry companies on their own initiative have been developing methods that aim to ensure the legal origin of wood. Tools to combat illegal logging include company-specific policies and principles, creation of long-term business relations with trustworthy suppliers, forest certification, Environmental Management Systems, wood tracing systems, training and increasing awareness through stakeholder dialogue.
The wood raw material imported by Finnish forest industry companies comes from law-abiding felling operations. Companies 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.
The forest industry’s production operations need more logs than is sold from Finnish forests, which is why the sector imports wood. 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.
Finnish forest industries federation and WWF to co-operate for legal sourcing of wood
WWF and FFIF share a joint view on the ultimate goal of legal and sustainable forest management, recognize illegal loggings as a mutual concern world wide and share a vision of international timber trade with wood procured from legal and sustainable sources only.
WWF acknowledges the work done by the Finnish forest industry to combat illegal logging in Russia and recognises that the tracking systems are considered to be among the most efficient processes currently available.
The Finnish forest industry commits to contribute in further development of the existing tracing systems in local participatory processes and international dialogue to better identify and exclude different kind of illegalities and to increase the transparency of the systems. WWF and FFIF have also decided to establish a working group to further develop wood tracking systems.
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.
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
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.
Anne Brunila, President, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6600
Anu Islander, counsellor, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6678