Legality verification & supply chain control

Legality verification & supply chain control

European Forest Institute (EFI)

A wide range of mechanisms has been developed by the private sector, non-governmental organisations and governments to verify the legality of timber products. Legality verification and chain-of-custody certification offer a means by which to assure buyers and customers that timber or timber products have been harvested in compliance with the relevant laws.

Legality verification is largely a voluntary process, although some legislation includes a requirement for verification. For example, the Voluntary Partnership Agreements established between the EU and producer countries as part of the FLEGT Action Plan establish national legality assurance systems to ensure that any timber entering the supply chain comes from a legal source, and with which timber products must comply if they are to receive a FLEGT license.

There are many examples of private legality verification schemes. While some schemes verify that timber originates from a licensed source and from a producer who has the legal right to harvest (‘verified legal origin’), others also verify that timber harvesting and other management activities in the forest complied with the law (‘verified legally compliant’). Companies wishing to prove that they have good supply chain management may also apply for chain-of-custody certification, thereby verifying that their timber products are traceable from the point of harvest to the point of supply (Proforest, 2011). In addition to verifying the legality of their products, some companies may also choose to certify their sustainability. See the sustainability certification section for more information.