Government makes sustainable timber mandatory

Anyone hoping to sell timber or timber products to government bodies or their contractors from April 1 next year will need to prove that it is from a legal and sustainable source.

Government makes sustainable timber mandatory

There has been a step-change in timber procurement policy, which takes effect next April. All central government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies are required to procure either legal and sustainable timber.

In order to demonstrate that timber is from a legal and sustainable source it is necessary to prove:

o The source of the timber (chain of custody): In general, timber and wood-derived products go through a number of stages between the forest and the final product. Since the policy applies to legality and sustainability in the forest, it is necessary to know the area of forest the timber originated from.

o That the forest source was legally and sustainably managed: Once the source of the timber is known, then it is necessary to show that the forest was managed legally and sustainably.

Evidence relating to both management of the forest and the chain of custody is therefore required. This may either be independent certification under a scheme recognised by the UK Government, or documentary evidence that provides assurance that the source is legal and sustainable.

Help and guidance on meeting these requirements is offered by the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET), funded by Defra to provide free advice and guidance to all public sector buyers and their suppliers to aid compliance with the policy. Click here for details:

A list of assessed certification schemes that currently meet the government’s requirements can be found on the CPET website. Certification schemes include both forest management certification and chain of custody certification.

Further information on collecting and evaluating evidence is set out in a document titled “UK Government Timber Procurement Policy: Framework for evaluating Category B evidence”, also available from the CPET web site.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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