Companies must do more to check the wood they use is legally sourced, says conservation organisation World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
A WWF study focused on products not covered by the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which requires companies to ensure the wood their products are made from comes from a legal source.
It claimed some companies are selling products in the UK made from types of wood that the WWF considers are at a high risk of coming from illegally logged forests.
The WWF report Do Timber Products in the UK Stack Up? said more than half of timber imports by value are not covered by the EUTR. UK-based companies selling these products are not legally obliged to ensure or prove they come from legal sources, and there is no requirement for companies to buy from sustainable sources.
The report concluded timber products from illegal sources may still be on sale in the UK, despite restrictions placed on imports of illegal wood under EUTR.
As part of the research, WWF tested 26 products from 17 firms including chairs, musical instruments and toys. It said that none of the firms was able to supply evidence to assure WWF that it had carried out adequate due diligence to make sure wood products were from a legal source.
Seven companies were selling products made from timber WWF considered to be at a high risk. Eight of the 26 products tested were not actually made from the wood type or species claimed by the company, WWF claimed.
WWF said some companies have engaged with it to work out how best to improve due diligence processes. But it is also calling for changes to the EUTR so that it covers all timber products.
Julia Young, manager of WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network programme at WWF-UK said: “We cannot continue to have a market where customers cannot be sure the product they buy is made from the wood declared. In the absence of better information from companies that their wood has come from a legally or sustainably logged forest, customers are in the dark.”
She added: “We are heartened that as a result of this work, new businesses are now engaging with us to find out how to improve their due diligence, and 40 others have already signed up to our campaign. The forest campaign involves a pledge to buy from legal and sustainable sources. This is the right way to go and we want more companies to take this challenge and their responsibility seriously.