Legality | WWF

© WWF / Isaac Malugu
What is GFTN?

The Global Forest & Trade Network is WWF’s initiative to eliminate illegal logging and drive improvements in the global forest sector. GFTN provides companies with a coherent framework to eliminate illegally and irresponsibly produced and traded wood and wood products from their supply chain, and achieve and maintain credible certification. GFTN’s goal is to mainstream responsible forest management and trade so it’s standard practice by 2020, contributing to WWF’s goal of Zero Net Deforestation and Degradation in production forests.

What is GFTN’s position on legislative efforts to combat illegal trade of wood?

The Lacey Act, the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill all represent major milestones in international efforts to curb illegal logging. On the policy front, WWF has been an integral part of such efforts to ensure that the law is implemented and enforced. On the market side, WWF/GFTN is actively helping companies meet the obligations of these regulations and ultimately move towards credible certification, which we deem to be the simplest and best way of demonstrating due diligence and ensuring that the forest is managed responsibly.

When the EU Timber Regulation came into effect on 3 March 2013, WWF strongly urged EU Member States to move quickly on developing national legislations and ensure that the law is enforced and implemented (see WWF European Policy Office's statement here).

Legality is just one step in the process of achieving the ultimate goal of responsible forest management and trade, and does not fully ensure that the world’s forests are conserved. The industry must go beyond simply meeting legal requirements to safeguard the world’s production forests for future generations.

Learn more about the basics of responsible forestry and trade here.

How is GFTN addressing the EUTR and other legality schemes?

GFTN’s proven stepwise approach (see more below) helps companies exercise due diligence by providing guidance on how to remove unknown and unwanted sources from their supply chains and move progressively towards legally verified, and ultimately credibly certified, sources. Through the Framework for Assessing Legality of Forestry Operations, Timber Processing and Trade, developed jointly with TRAFFIC, WWF/GFTN is also supporting forest managers and other stakeholders in producer countries in their efforts to improve governance of their forest resources and prevent illegal logging and timber trade through encouraging compliance with laws related to the forest sector at both national and international levels.

WWF/GFTN has developed a number of guides, briefings, publications and tools to aid companies understand and comply with various legal requirements (see sidebar). GFTN’s local offices are working actively and providing direct, on-the-ground technical support on supply chain analysis, due diligence, risk assessment and compliance. With offices in over 25 countries, GFTN is also uniquely positioned to provide global expertise and facilitate market links between companies committed to responsible forest management and trade.

How do the GFTN Participation Rules specifically address the EU Timber Regulation and other legal requirements?

GFTN’s stepwise approach was revised in 2011 to be compatible with the EUTR and other legal mechanisms. The stepwise approach is in itself a due-diligence system that meets and exceeds the requirements set within the EUTR (see more below).

GFTN Participation Rules require that all trade participants meet the requirements for the Environmental Status Category Source Assessed, meaning that the forest source has been evaluated for basic legality and traceability criteria, within one year of joining GFTN (see Section 6.2).

In countries where market-based legislation exists, such as within the European Union, USA and Australia, the law requires that GFTN participants must practice due diligence or due care in their purchasing. In GFTN stepwise approach terms, their sourcing must, at the very least, be at the level of Source Assessed. GFTN has been, and will continue to, actively work with participants to ensure that their performance both meets, and ultimately exceeds, the legal minimum.

Forest participants are required to comply with relevant laws and supply only timber that has been legally harvested. For each forest management unit that is within the scope of participation but is not credibly certified and is located in an area of high risk with respect to legality (according to the FSC Global Forest Registry), the participant is required to supply timber that is verified legal no later than the end of the first year of participation (see Section 5.4). 

What is GFTN's stepwise approach?

The stepwise approach is designed to help companies progress towards legal and responsible sourcing through a series of manageable actions. The stepwise approach requires participant progression through the following four categories:
  • Limited knowledge of forest source
  • Source Assessed, meaning the forest source is evaluated for basic legality and traceability criteria
  • Source Verified, meaning that the forest source is third party verified for basic social and environmental criteria
  • Credibly certified or recycled source.

See GFTN Participation Rules for a full definition of these categories.