Timber purchasing rules strengthened

21 January 2010
21 January 2010 | Amy Rowe

The UK government has toughened up on timber procurement rules.

Public sector buyers will now have to provide correct documentation and identification for the source of timber supplies, environment secretary Hilary Benn said yesterday.

Purchasers must also have mechanisms in place to resolve supplier grievances and disputes, including those related to work conditions, health and safety and basic labour rights for forest workers.

The “social criteria” will be formally introduced on 1 April and build on last year’s policy requiring the entire public sector to purchase timber products from independently verified, legal and sustainable sources.

Benn told a conference at Chatham House, the international affairs think tank, that illegal logging is a danger to the environment and causes major problems for developing countries, including loss of revenue and corruption.

It is hoped the latest government action will encourage other consumers to end illegal timber trading.

Mike Greenland, managing director of forestry certification and supply chain management specialist Ligna, said good work already exists in the private sector. “Bigger contractors with corporate social responsibility agendas are increasingly keen to make sure their timber is sustainable,” he told SM.
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