Nantes presentations underline hunger for EUTR information

August 2012

A lively series of talks and discussions on the upcoming EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) at the Carrefour International du Bois French timber industry exhibition highlighted the level of interest in the legislation among timber traders, end users and specifiers. But it also underlined the real hunger in the market for more detailed information; particularly on how the anti-illegal timber Regulation will impact on the day to day operation of individual businesses and precisely what they need to do to prepare for its introduction in March next year.

The seminars and presentations, over the three days of the international timber show in Nantes in June, were suggested by trading partners, hardwood products specialist Lionex and   bamboo products supplier Tergao.  They were subsequently supported by the European Forestry Institute (EFI) and European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF).

“The show presents the most extensive offer of wood products of any trade exhibition in Europe,” said Tergao director of strategy and innovation Michiel Vos. “It brings the European market together every two years, a total of over 500 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors. This was an opportunity to communicate what the sector needs to know about this legislation to ban illegally harvested wood from the EU.”

Over the two days, the seminars attracted an audience of over 60; a mixture of traders, buyers, consultants, architects and other specifiers, journalists and representatives of timber industry organisations.

The presentations on the EUTR and its potential effects on business and trade, were given by L’Association Technique International du Bois Tropicaux (ATIBT), France’s industry association and ETTF member, Le Commerce du Bois and the French Ministry of Agriculture.

The second day’s presentations proved a particular draw.
Pierrick Daniel from the Ministry of Agriculture outlined the new regulation and Ralph Ridder and Denis Loyer of ATIBT focused on the EU and illegal wood. There was interest in ATIBT’s Timber Pass, which aims to provide an overview of the EUTR and how to prepare for it. Presented in the form of a passport, the pass lists the obligations it imposes on different players in the supply chain. It also covers associated legislation and initiatives, including the US anti-illegal timber Lacey Act, and the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) system. Under the latter, tropical timber countries undertake to improve their forest management and ultimately supply only VPA-licensed timber to the EU. None of this material is yet available, although a number of countries say they are close to having a VPA licensing system in place. When it is eventually supplied, VPA-licensed wood  will be able to bypass the EUTR without having to undergo the due diligence legality risk assessment the Regulation will impose on all other timber and wood products placed on the EU market.

Also very well received was a “crash course on the EUTR and its importance” from Le Commerce du Bois director Eric Boilley.
All the presentations triggered lively question and answer sessions and some debate.  This again, said Mr Vos, emphasized the urgent need to provide the market with further information on the EUTR.

“Many questions have been answered and there is growing awareness that the EUTR is coming,” he said. “But clearly many things are still not clear and important questions remain. These need to be answered effectively – and soon. March 2013, the date for implementation of the EUTR, is approaching rapidly.”

According to speakers and audience, further initiatives like the Carrefour presentations should now be organized. They highlighted the UK’s Timber Show in September and the Global Wood Mart in Kuala Lumpur in October as the next ideal platforms.