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30 March 2012 | Angeline Albert
More than half of the 124 local authorities who responded to a survey by conservation group WWF admit they have no timber sourcing policy to protect them against the European Timber Regulation (EUTR).
The regulation, which comes into force on 3 March 2013, bans EU member states from purchasing illegally harvested timber and timber products. However, according to the WWF’s report Barking up the right tree?, published this week, less than half (46 per cent) of the authorities who responded ask suppliers to give them documentary evidence of the certified status of the timber and paper products they purchase.
Wood products include building materials, flooring, fire doors, printing paper and toilet tissue. The EUTR requires anyone handling wood or wood products to conduct due diligence prior to purchase to ensure goods are not from an illegal source, even if the product is from a certification scheme such as the Forest Stewardship Council.
The WWF said the UK is the third highest importer of products made from illegal timber in Europe and the public sector is thought to account for as much as 40 per cent of all wood products entering the UK market. The WWF estimates that up to 10 per cent of wood products entering the UK from outside Europe come from illegal sources.
Among the reasons for the absence of a policy, councils cited a lack of time, information and resources, and it not being a priority.
The WWF has recommended that all local authorities make having a legal and sustainable timber procurement policy a mandatory requirement.