Responsible Timber Exchange aims to end illegality across timber sector

A new timber-related programme has been launched in a bid to end the illegality that exists across the sector and instead provide buyers with sustainable certification, supply chain and pricing information so they can ensure all purchases are genuine.

Launched at the end of last month by BVRio Environmental Exchange, a nonprofit organisation aimed at boosting environmental compliance, The Responsible Timber Exchange provides a host of information regarding timber and wood products that originate from numerous countries, as well as offering details on FSC and PEFC-certified suppliers.

The new programme aims to offer a detailed risk assessment tool and will help to solve the issue of illegal logging and other non-sustainable moves within the sector, which have been estimated to affect almost 90 per cent of all timber sold across the world.

With timber importers coming under increasing pressure to prove exactly where their timber and wood products have originated from as a result of legislation including the US Lacey Act and the EU Timber Regulation, it is hoped that this new online tool will allow the sustainability of all timber to be verified by its traders across the world.

Pedro Moura Costa, the founder and president of BVRio, said: “This is the first vehicle that promotes legality [and] sustainability.”

Mr Moura Costa confirmed that the organisation had been asked by numerous certified timber companies operating in Brazil, one of the world’s major timber exporters, to ensure they are able to operate in an efficient and economic manner.

He said that, as the “illegal operators have such an advantage,” it is far more difficult for ethically minded timber producers to compete with them on their world stage. “There is no mechanism to favour those that want to procure [timber] responsibility,” he went on to say.

The new programme builds on the existing range of software and mobile applications which allow purchasers to trace timber or wood products right back to the point at which they originate via a scan of a permit’s barcode. More than one billion data checks have been carried out in this way since this software was first launched last year. Indeed, it “identifies things that not even an auditor in the field would be able to,” Mr Moura Costa said.

As well as pricing and sustainability information, the Responsible Timber Exchange also comprises current market conditions for a range of types of timber and wood products as well as data regarding the chain of custody for wood originating in Brazil through a Due Diligence and Risk Assessment Report.

With this new system users are now able to see whether timber that originated in Indonesia complies with the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade licensing system, as well as working out whether a seller’s products from across the globe have been certified under the Forestry Stewardship Council or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

The programme will soon enable the screening of all timber originating from Ghana and Peru, confirmed Mr Moura Costa, with more information to be added over the coming months.

GWD Forestry spokesman, James Barrett, said: “Anything that helps to crack down on the damaging illegality that is rampant within the forestry and timber sector has got to be a major positive for the industry as a whole. By allowing legitimate suppliers to better compete on the world stage by weeding out their illegal counterparts, the sector looks set for a strong – and sustainable – future.”

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