Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence



Annex B

 

GREEN GUIDE FOR BUYERS—ACTION SHEET: WOOD

  Note. The action sheet is being revised to take account of the model contract specification for timber and timber products and will be reviewed following receipt of the consultant's report into the timber scoping study.

WHAT'S OUR GOAL?

    —  To use wood efficiently and encourage sustainable forestry practices which maintain the biodiversity, productivity and ecological habitats of woodlands.

BUYERS, USERS—WHAT YOU CAN DO

Read

    —  The notes at the end of this section.

    —  Section 10 on timber in DETR's publication Towards more sustainable Construction—a green guide for managers on the Government estate, can be found on DETR's web site.

Purchase

    —  Sustainably produced timber and timber products (such as joinery, fittings, furniture and veneers) by, for example:

    —  Specifying in orders and contracts that suppliers provide documentary evidence (which has been, or if necessary can be, independently verified) that the timber has been lawfully obtained from forests and plantations managed to sustain their biodiversity, productivity and vitality, and to prevent harm to other ecosystems and any indigenous or forest-dependent people—see notes 2 and 3 below.

    —  Ensuring that timber procurements are in accordance with international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)—see note 5 below.

WHERE FEASIBLE

Consider

    —  Buying reclaimed timber or products made from reclaimed timber where they offer value for money.

Indicate

    —  (When specifying chipboard and medium density fibreboards (MDF)) a preference for those made with a minimum percentage of 80 per cent recycled material.1

WHERE IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO OBTAIN FULL ASSURANCE THAT THE TIMBER OR TIMBER PRODUCT HAS COME FROM A SUSTAINABLY MANAGED SOURCE

Seek

    —  As much information as is available, eg about the forest of origin, whether it was cut under Government licence and, for timber products, the species of wood used, and seek advice from the trade (eg Timber Trade Federation and Forests Forever) and environmental Non-Government Bodies (NGOs) eg WWF, FSC and Friends of the Earth.

IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO

Introduce

    —  A system for monitoring your procurement of timber and timber products (including their value) which should conform with international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Maintain

  A list of purchases showing which, for example:

    —  were certified under a credible, preferably independent, verification scheme as coming from sustainably managed sources;

    —  were certified under a national or country specific scheme such as UKWAS which is approved by one or more internationally recognised umbrella or accreditation schemes;

    —  were accompanied by other documentation demonstrating that the wood has come from forests or plantations, eg covered by a certified environmental management system incorporating forest management criteria that conform with internationally recognised principles such as the Helsinki Guidelines or those of the International Tropical Timber Organisation;

    —  were accompanied by a supporting statement from the country of origin's embassy that the timber was acquired in accordance with its national legislation and any applicable international agreements;

    —  were accompanied by evidence showing that an independent certification scheme with chain of custody is being introduced even though the timber does not currently meet the criteria for sustainably produced timber;

    —  could not be substantiated as coming from sustainable sources—with explanation, including recycled timber and timber products.

Implement

    —  procedures for considering any purchases which cannot be substantiated as coming from sustainable sources which, for example, cover:

    —  the need for the purchase;

    —  the specification, eg can another species meet the requirements? Can large sizes be met by gluing? Can supply dates be extended?

    —  value for money—taking account of whole life costs;

    —  use of independent expert advice;

    —  an assessment of the effect of using alternative products, eg is the alternative (steel, concrete, plastic, etc) likely to be more damaging to the environment;

    —  the person(s) designated to authorise purchases which cannot be substantiated as coming from sustainably managed sources;

    —  arrangements for measuring performance and for collecting information on progress for inclusion in Green Ministers' annual reports.

Provide

    —  adequate training for buyers on the new policy and procedures they need to follow.

TIMBER PROCUREMENT MONITORING GROUP

  Contact the chairman of the inter-departmental Timber Buyers Working Group ([email protected]) which has been set up to:

    —  assist Government bodies in working with timber suppliers and producers;

    —  give advice on best purchasing practice and advise on targets;

    —  monitor progress;

    —  report on progress to Green Ministers.

TOWARDS MORE SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION

Specify:

In Maintenance Contracts

    —  that waste timber and timber from temporary works should be reused or recycled;

    —  the number of applications of primer, under- and top- coats of paint or varnish to be used;

    —  if painting or varnishing is required, that preference is given to low solvent or water based media where technically suitable;

    —  the maintenance and inspection routines, and that all work undertaken should be supervised effectively.2

In Supplies Contracts

    —  where solid wood veneers are to be used, that they are not less than 0.9mm in thickness where commensurate with intended use;3

    —  the need for durability in the selection of fittings and furniture which should come with at least a five year warranty;

    —  the inclusion with the product of full instructions for the care, repair and replacement of worn parts, including inventory numbers for parts and effective procedures for ordering them;

    —  a preference, where feasible, for refurbished products or ones made from recycled material;

    —  plywood and particle board with the lowest formaldehyde level commensurate with the intended use.

In Cleaning Contracts

    —  that no abrasive chemicals should be used on timber in furniture, fittings or joinery.

NOTES

  1.  The Government's policy on the procurement of wood is to purchase sustainably produced timber (and timber products such as joinery, fittings, furniture and veneers) by, for example, specifying in orders and contracts that:

    —  suppliers provide documentary evidence (which has been, or if necessary can be, independently verified) that the timber has been lawfully obtained from forests and plantations which are managed to sustain their biodiversity, productivity and vitality, and to prevent harm to other ecosystems and any indigenous or forest-dependent people;

    —  timber purchases are in accordance with international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

  2.  The evidence might take the form of: a certificate issued under a credible, preferably independent, verification scheme; or other documents that demonstrate that timber producers are abiding to a declaration, charter, code of conduct or an environmental management system incorporating forest management criteria that conform with internationally recognised principles.

  3.  In Europe, these principles should correspond to those of the Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines for Sustainable Forest Management as endorsed by the Lisbon Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe (2-4 June 1998). Outside Europe, they shall correspond to the UNCED Forest Principles (Rio de Janeiro, June 1992) and, where applicable, to the criteria of guidelines for sustainable forest management as adopted under recognised international and regional initiatives, eg ITTO, Montreal Process, Tarapoto Process, UNEP/FAO Dry-Zone Africa Initiative.

  4.  Independent certification (which includes tracing the wood from forest to final processor) is a reliable way of ensuring that timber has come from sustainably managed sources. However, only a small proportion of timber and timber products are certified world-wide under independent schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and, therefore, it is unlikely that the Government could meet all its requirements from such sources alone. Details of national and international schemes are given in Appendix A [to the action sheet]. DETR is proposing to appraise the schemes to see which meet its criteria for sustainably produced timber.

  5.  The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is legally enforced by European Council Regulations, requires suppliers to adhere to any bans, restrictions or controls placed on trade in timber and timber products (including veneers). CITES lists several endangered species of timber—including, for instance, big-leaf Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). Annex C of the EC Regulation which implements CITES requires trade in this species to be monitored using a system of import notifications, and importers must present HM Customs and Excise with a completed import notification plus either:

    —  an export certificate from the Management Authority whose countries' populations are specifically mentioned under CITES; or

    —  a certificate of origin from the Management Authority whose specific populations are not mentioned under CITES.

  6.  Information on other timber species listed under CITES, and guidance on import requirements for these species, can be obtained from DETR's Global Wildlife Division (Tel: 0117 987 8170, e-mail: [email protected]).

  7.  The Government's procurement policy on wood also requires Government departments:

    —  to put in place procedures for monitoring timber procurement policies, exchanging information and examples of best practice with other Government Departments and Agencies;

    —  to report annually through returns for the Green Ministers' reports on timber purchases and the steps that are being taken to buy it from legal and sustainable sources;

    —  to participate in the inter-departmental Timber Procurement Monitoring Group which is assisting Government departments to work with timber suppliers and producers to develop best practice for ensuring timber and timber products are obtained from legal and sustainable sources;

    —  to consider buying reclaimed timber or products made from reclaimed timber where it is practicable to do so and where they offer value for money.

  8.  The policy was made binding on Government bodies by the Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, in an answer to a question on "timber procurement" tabled by Mr Burgon MP on 28 July 2000 (House of Commons. No. 133792).

  9.  The World's forestry industry is moving towards independent validation. Initiatives include: international certification schemes like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which launched its "independently verifiable forest management standards" in 1997; incorporation by the International Standards Organisation of industry specific criteria for forest management into ISO 14061; and the development of the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS). More information about these developments and other initiatives are given in Appendix A [to the action sheet].

  10. More information on this policy and issues involved is given in the document Buyers' questions answered which is on the greening government pages of DETR's web site.

 


 
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