ETTF harmonized due diligence close to launch

july 2012

The European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) has almost completed its harmonized due diligence illegal timber risk assessment system, which will enable all members to comply with the upcoming EU Timber Regulation, according to the organisation’s secretary general André de Boer.

André de BoerkMr de Boer was addressing an audience of more than 200 at the latest Chatham House Illegal Logging Update conference in London recently.
He said that several of the ETTF’s member federations across the EU have already developed and implemented their own EUTR-compliant due diligence systems. The UK Timber Trade Federation (TTF), for instance, has introduced its Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) and made it obligatory for members.  
‘But while some members have devised their own systems, others have not,” Mr de Boer told the audience of government, industry and environmental NGO representatives. “So we decided, as an organisation representing 10 EU member state industry federations, to develop a practical harmonized system that all their members could sign up to and implement before the introduction of the EUTR in March 2013.  And, with the planned merger of the FEBO organisation into the ETTF next year, the system will also be available to the federations of four more countries; Sweden, Finland and Austria and Switzerland.”
Under the EUTR, all companies “ first placing timber into the EU market” must demonstrate that they are using an effective, well managed due diligence risk assessment system that minimizes the danger of illegal wood entering their supply chain. This must include proof that the timber has been harvested in compliance with the laws of the producer country, the species of the material and the source of supply. In some cases, that’s right down to the specific region within a country. Whether the timber is third party certified for legality and sustainability may also be taken into account and contribute to achieving compliance, although this alone is not sufficient evidence under the EUTR rules.
To avoid any clash or conflict with the existing Federation members’ due diligence systems, the ETTF’s harmonized system was developed in close collaboration and discussion with them and with reference to their due diligence methods.  So, effectively, maintained Mr de Boer, all the federations will be taking a very similar, compatible approach, with no danger of one implementing a less effective or sound system than the others.
The ETTF has also liaised closely on due diligence with leading supplier countries to the EU, and certification auditing body NepCon has undertaken a pilot study to assess exactly how its system measures up to the demands of the EUTR.
The next step, said the ETTF Secretary General, would be to roll out the harmonized system to the remaining 14 EU states, even though their timber trade federations do not yet actually belong to his organisation. 
“There is no reason why they should not take advantage of the harmonized due diligence system and enable their member companies to introduce it,” said Mr de Boer. “ Then we will have a truly EU-wide system, which will strengthen the entire industry.”
He said that ETTF member federations will convene for a special conference to discuss the final details for the implementation of the harmonized due diligence system in August, including training for members.  The aim is for it to be launched in September.