Timber Procurement Policy (TPP): prove legality and sustainability

Comply with the TPP and check documentary evidence to show that timber is legal and sustainable: for government procurers and suppliers.

Evidence of legality and sustainability can come in 2 forms:

Category A

Third party, independent forest certification schemes, referred to as ‘Category A’ evidence under the timber procurement policy, provide a way of defining sustainable forest management as well as verifying that a timber source meets the definition of sustainability.

Government procurers and their suppliers should have documentary evidence to show the timber supplied is at a minimum from legal and sustainable sources. This evidence should include full chain of custody from the forest source(s) to the end user. Acceptable forest certification schemes provide this evidence of legal and/or sustainable timber. Suppliers and buyers must check evidence to verify its validity.

Checklist to show how to check certificates from forest certification scheme (Category A)

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Approved schemes include the 2 international certification schemes: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) licensed timber is also accepted by the UK government as evidence of compliance with the TPP.

Review of Category A certification schemes

Forest certification schemes approved as ‘Category A evidence’ were reviewed (2014 to 2015) to ensure that they continue to provide evidence of compliance. Two schemes were put forward for the TPP Category A evidence certified scheme review: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). An independent technical panel reviewed the evidence (communicating with the schemes throughout) before presenting their findings to the CPET reference board. Defra approved the results in 2015. For the schemes to meet the Category A criteria, it is mandatory to meet 100% of the legality criteria and at least 70% of the sustainability criteria.

Defra announced that both schemes were 100% compliant with the Category A legality criteria and both were over 90% compliant with the sustainability criteria. To see the Category A Scheme Assessment Summary Report, click here.

Both the Criteria for Evaluating Forest Certification Schemes (Cat A evidence) and the Methodology for reviews of timber certification schemes (Cat A evidence) were used to review the schemes.

Category B

Category B is all forms of credible evidence other than certification schemes that indicate that the forest source meets the UK government’s criteria for sustainability and legality. This type of evidence can vary greatly and is judged on a case-by-case basis.

Government procurers and their suppliers: Use the Framework for evaluating category B evidence to help with the provision and assessment of Category B evidence.

‘Broken chain of custody’ is when you purchase timber and timber products from a supplier who is not directly certified but who claims their supply is. You may be able to show that it meets the requirements for legality and sustainability by following the steps outlined in the practical guides and framework document.

It is important to understand that if you do have a break in the chain, and use credible Category B evidence to make the link between the certificate holder, your supplier and you, you can’t claim that certified products have been purchased. Any such claim would be a trademark infringement. Contact the relevant certification scheme for more information.

Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) licensed timber is also accepted by the UK government as evidence of compliance with the TPP.

Meeting TPP requirements: guidance for woodland owners in England

Timber traceable to a forest with a fully implemented forest management plan in line with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) requirements and guidelines meets the UK government’s Timber Procurement Policy. The Forestry Commission has guidance to woodland owners in England, and suppliers using wood from small English woodlands, to help them meet the requirements of government TPP.

If your woodland is not certified through either FSC or PEFC UK (category A evidence), you may be able to demonstrate compliance with the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS). If a woodland is assessed by either FSC or PEFC against the UKWAS, timber can be sold as FSC and / or PEFC certified.

Alternatively, you can meet the Category B evidence using the Forest source: checking category B evidence and if needed, the Forestry supply chain: check category B evidence guidance documents.

International timber regulations

EU Timber Regulation

The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) puts obligations on businesses who trade in timber and timber related products. The National Measurement and Regulation Office is the UK’s Competent Authority.

Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)

One of the aims of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan is to reduce illegal logging. A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-producing country outside the EU.

The purpose of a VPA is to:

  • en­sure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources
  • help timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector

FLEGT VPA licensed timber is accepted by the UK government as evidence of compliance with the TPP. Once a VPA partner country licensing scheme has been established, licensed timber and wood-derived products arriving in the EU from that country should be accompanied by the appropriate FLEGT-licence which will be checked at import. Adequate supply chain controls need to be in place from the point of import to the point of delivery to Contracting Authorities to demonstrate that the material being delivered was FLEGT-licensed.

Further information can be found on the official EC website and on the European Forest Institute (EFI) website.

Published 1 June 2013