SFI applauds EU’s new illegal logging rules
A leading forestry organization applauded the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which took effect March 3 and prohibits illegally harvested timber or products derived from such timber to be brought in the European Union.
“Illegal logging undermines responsible forest governance, damages wildlife habitat, and reduces the potential for forests to provide stable supplies of products and support local communities,” saidKathy Abusow, President and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) . “The EUTR, just like the U.S. Lacey Act, is an important regulatory tool to address illegal logging and enable legal global trade in forest products.”
Abusow is speaking at The Economist World Forests Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, on the timely topic of timber regulations that prohibit the sale of illegally harvested timber. On this panel, Abusow applauded timber regulations as one of many important mechanisms to combat illegal logging. She also asked the audience to remember that while illegal logging is a global problem, responsible forestry is the solution given the many economic, environmental, and social values that working forests support.
“The European Commission has recognized that forest certification programs can be an important tool to help suppliers meet EUTR requirements,” Abusow said. “Products certified to forest certification standards, including PEFC and SFI, are demonstrating they have mechanisms in place to avoid illegal fiber in the supply chain, and are committed to promoting responsible forestry.”
While forests certified to the SFI Standard exist only in the U.S. and Canada where there is negligible risk of illegal logging, and 98% of the fiber sourced by SFI Program Participants for their North American facilities comes from the U.S. or Canada, SFI has mechanisms to assess and address risks to avoid illegal sources of supply. In addition, in recognition that it takes a variety of interests, mechanisms, policies and tools to address illegal logging and more importantly to promote sustainable development, SFI has been supportive of tools to assist purchasers of forest products in securing products from legal sources, including the Forest Legality Risk Information Tool developed by the World Resources Institute.
The SFI Program is internationally recognized and has been endorsed by the independent Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Ben Gunneberg, PEFC Secretary General, said “PEFC International has undertaken measures to revise its PEFC Chain of Custody standard to be fully aligned with the due diligence requirements of the EUTR. The EUTR is expected to drive increased market interest in forest certification as the simplest and most credible tool currently available for demonstrating legality and minimizing risk.”
While forest certification is not accepted as automatic proof of EUTR compliance, as the European Commission cannot formally endorse non-regulatory instruments, forest certification is referenced in the EUTR and supporting regulations and guidance as a potential tool for risk assessment and mitigation. The European Commission has specified that certification or other third-party verified schemes may be taken into account where they meet certain criteria, all of which PEFC and SFI Standards meet.