WWF offers new tool to stop illegal timber entering supply chain | WWF

WWF offers new tool to stop illegal timber entering supply chain

Posted on 12 October 2006
Credible certified forest products, such as this FSC-certified wood, ensure environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests.
© WWF / Edward Parker
A new manual Keep It Legal launched by WWF aims to help buyers of timber and timber products to avoid purchasing wood and wood products made from illegally logged timber. Designed by WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), the manual can be used by any company or organisation which purchases forest products including processors, importers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers.

The Keep It Legal manual focuses particularly on the problems posed by the extensive trade in illegal forest products and offers a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating the risk of illegally logged wood entering the supply chain. By including a range of practical solutions which can be adopted by individual companies and by outlining the ways in which purchasers can demonstrate compliance with best practice, the manual makes the process of “keeping it legal” easier to understand.

Currently a multibillion dollar industry taking place in more than 70 countries worldwide and in all types of forests, illegal logging distorts trade, destroys nature, and damages communities. Illegal logging has a particularly devastating effect on biodiversity because forests with high conservation value, including protected areas like national parks, are often deliberately targeted because they contain the remaining highly valuable trees which have not been overexploited elsewhere.

In some countries in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, it is estimated that between 37 percent (Imazon 2005) and 100 percent (National Transitional Government of Liberia 2005) of all trees are cut illegally; in Russia it’s between 20 percent and 60 percent (IUCN 2005) and the country loses US$1 billion in revenue annually due to illegal logging and associated trading.

The effects of illegal logging on the global economy are clear: through lost tax revenues, illegal logging creates an economic shortfall of approximately US $4 billion annually and a recent study 1 found that illegally traded timber depresses global wood prices by 716 percent on average. But illegal logging remains very profitable due to the high demand for cheap wood in the EU, Japan and the US, and from emerging economies such as China.

“As China’s largest manufacturer and distributor of solid wood flooring with sources of wood around the world, Anxin is responding to the purchasing preferences of our customers. The Keep It Legal guide is helping Anxin reduce the risk of illegal wood entering our supply chains from important forests in places like the Amazon and Indonesia,” said Carl Lu, CEO & President of Shanghai Anxin Flooring Co. Ltd., China’s largest manufacturer and distributor of solid wood flooring.

The implications of buying and supplying illegal timber – knowingly or because of a failure to exercise due diligence over supply chains are wideranging and include exposure to criticism and a consequent loss of reputation, loss of business contracts by failing to meet the procurement policies of the enduser company or government agency, and potential prosecution for breach of trade regulations. The environmental and social costs of illegal logging are also huge, often including forest fragmentation and the conversion of forests, illegal mining, poaching of forest wildlife, haphazard human settlement, and a greater risk of forest fires.

“Urgent action is needed to protect the world’s forests. If illegal logging continues to be ignored, many of the world’s forests and the people and industries which they support will suffer. WWF is calling on all those working in the forest industry and those who trade forest products to embrace responsible timber purchasing, to take action, and to keep it legal,” said Per Rosenberg, Executive Director of WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network.

WWF’s GFTN anticipates that the Keep It Legal manual will be the first point of reference for organisations at all points of the timber supply chain seeking to establish current best practice for buying, processing, and selling legal timber and timber products. The manual also contains specific guidance for major timberproducing and exporting countries, and online country guides will offer practical advice to organisations sourcing timber from those countries.

"We welcome WWF’s Keep It Legal guide. It will be an important tool in our campaign to encourage and guide our suppliers towards the highest standards of legality. Kingfisher Asia operates in an international market and it is vital that the high environmental standards we strive to achieve are applied consistently in Asia and across the world,” said Ray Baker, Director of Social Responsibility, Kingfisher, plc.

"The WWF Keep It Legal guide is a vital part of the effort to make it harder for illegal wood to be passed off as legal, whilst also rewarding those suppliers who verify legality. IKEA’s support for this initiative reflects our longterm goal to have all wood in our range sourced from responsibly managed forests, and our focus on the promotion of responsible forest management throughout our supply chain,” said Sofie Beckham, IKEA’s Forestry Coordinator.

The Keep It Legal manual has been designed to work in conjunction with WWF’s widely acclaimed guide to Responsible Purchasing of Forest Products currently in print in seven languages and used in many countries around the world. Now in its second edition, the guide to Responsible Purchasing of Forest Products sets out a step by step approach for organisations purchasing timber and timber products. It outlines the ways in which companies can systematically establish a management system that will help them buy timber and timber products in a responsible manner, and which steers them away from suppliers involved in illegal and unsustainable logging.

“Responsible purchasing in an international market can be challenging. As a leading distributor of building products in the , we recognize our responsibility to do as much as we can to verify legality in our supply chains and promote responsible purchasing. WWF GFTN’s Responsible Purchasing Guide has been an invaluable tool for us and we have already made good use of the new Keep It Legal manual,” said Marty Sandlin, Senior Manager of Environmental Compliance at BlueLinx Corporation

Notes to Editors:

Interviews are available with Rod Taylor, George White

Photographs available include: forest harvesting, certified logs, illegal logging

1. The study conducted by Seneca Creek Associates and Wood Resources International examined the flow of suspicious roundwood into lumber and plywood. It concluded that if there were there no illegally harvested wood in the global market the value of US wood exports could increase by over US $460 million each year.

2. WWF defines illegal logging and forest crime as the harvesting, transporting, processing, buying or selling of timber in violation of national laws. It lies within wider forestrelated

crime which includes both large and small scale theft of timber, breaking licence agreements and tax laws, as well as issues of access to, and rights over, forest resources, corruption, and poor management.

3. Illegal logging ‘hot spots include Africa (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia), Asia Pacific (China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea), Europe (Estonia, Latvia, Russia), Latin America (Brazil, Ecuador, Peru).

4. The Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) is a WWFled partnership between leading nongovernmental organisations and more than 300 companies and communities that are committed to demonstrating leadership and best practice in responsible forest management and trade. The participants include forest owners, timber processors, importers, construction companies, retailers and investors who are organised in affiliated national and regional Forest &Trade Networks (FTNs) operating across nearly 30 producing and consuming countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. Since the first FTN was established in 1991 in the , GFTN participants together have generated the demand that has created a new kind of global market – the market in environmentally responsible forest products.

For further information:
Simon Forrester
Communication Consultant, Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN)
Tel: +44 (0)1497 820088 or +44 (0)7932 755515
Email: Simon@fcom.demon.co.uk


Credible certified forest products, such as this FSC-certified wood, ensure environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests.
© WWF / Edward Parker Enlarge