Letter and memorandum to the Clerk of
the Committee from Dr Ruth Nussbaum, Director, Proforest
ProForest specialises in sustainable management
of natural resources, in particular forests and the wood products
supply chain. Our work is extremely relevant to several of the
questions the committee is considering, in particular:
(c) development of a domestic certification
I summarise below three areas of particular
importance which I would ask the committee to consider, relating
them to the three questions (a), (c) and (d).
1. Assessing Certification Schemes (a) and
(c): whenever the issues of forest certification is addressed,
inevitably the question of "which scheme" is raised
as there are a number of schemes being used or developed. In response
to this, DFID's Forest Research Programme commissioned ProForest
to produce a report called "Assessing Forest Certification
Schemes: A Practical Guide".
This report has already been widely distributed and used and has
been proposed as a basis for further discussion by a number of
agencies ranging from the World Bank to several environmental
NGOs. It would also provide a very useful basis for any discussion
in the UK.
2. Producer Groups (a): ProForest is currently
working with WWF's Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) to develop
the concept of Producer Groups. The GFTN is a network of about
20 groups covering 30 countries and with over 900 members including
such companies as B&Q, Sainsbury, IKEA, Railtrack, WHSmith
and The Home Depot. Over the last decade, the GFTN has worked
with these members through "Buyers Groups" in major
consuming countries to implement buying policies very similar
to the one which the UK government is now trying to implement.
Though the GFTN members are ultimately committed to buying certified
products, it has been accepted from the start that this will take
a number of years. It has also become clear that there are a number
of particular challenges and one of these is the lack of progress
in moving towards certification in many of the remaining tropical
and boreal (particularly Russian) forest. As a result, the GFTN
is now developing the concept of Producer Groups. These groups
will focus on providing support and incentives to the forest managers
and primary processors at the production end of the supply chain.
In particular, Producer Groups will:
Require members to demonstrate that
their timber is from legal sources thereby providing a potential
source of legal timber for procurement.
Require members to be part of a formal
and audited programme of improvement leading to full compliance
with a sustainable forest management standard, thereby providing
a mechanism for procurement decisions to support improvement in
Link supply with demand, thereby
allowing procurement decisions in consumer countries to support
the improvement of forest management in producer countries.
Producer Group development already involves
a wide range of partners including donors, private sector such
as IKEA who are investing significantly in their development,
governments and NGOs. Therefore, although the idea is relatively
new, it already has widespread international support. Linking
UK procurement to such groups could provide a quick but very effective
policy measure to begin implementing real change. A recent update
on the development of Producer Groups is attached as annex A.
3. Small and community forests (a), (c),
(d): studies funded by DFID have shown that it is important to
consider the impacts of any policy decision on small and community
forests. The ProForest report "An analysis of current FSC
accreditation, certification and standard-setting procedures identifying
elements which create constraints for small forest owners"
provides an analysis of potential problems and some solutions
for the most widely used certification system.
WWF Global Forest and Trade Network Briefing
on Producer Groups
The WWF Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN)
now has 19 national Forest and Trade Network (FTN) groups around
the world with a presence in Europe, North America, Asia and South
America. Each one is made up of companies, NGOs and other organisations
involved in the trade of wood products and committed to sourcing
these products from independently certified well-managed forests.
Altogether the network has over 900 members.
During the first decade of its existence, the
main focus of the GFTN has been on the market end of the production
chain with many national FTNs formerly known as Buyers Groups.
This approach has been extremely successful
in developing the demand for certified products which in turn
has driven forest certification in many parts of the world. However,
it has become clear over the last few years that there are many
places where the barriers to certification are so great that without
increased support, forest managers are unlikely to achieve certification
and primary processors unlikely to have access to certified material.
Therefore, the GFTN has begun the development
of FTNs which focus specifically on the challenges and needs of
producers, both forest managers and primary processors, through
the development of FTNs aimed specifically at producers.
Producer FTNs will be part of the GFTN network
exactly like any other FTN group. However, the development and
the management of the groups will be aimed specifically at forest
managers and primary processors in producer countries.
What can FTNs offer their producer members?
Producer FTNs will provide a range of services
to their members depending on local needs. These include:
Information and training: in many
countries there is a lack of information for forest managers about
certification itselfwhat it is and how to get involved
in the process. There is also frequently a lack of information
on the requirements for sustainable forest management and how
to implement them. Producer FTNs will be able to provide this
information to forest managers in local languages and interpreted
for local conditions.
Similarly for processors information can be provided
on issues related to purchasing certified wood and implementing
chain of custody.
Contact with buyers: an important
role producer FTNs will play is to bring together forest managers
and primary processors with potential customers who are looking
for certified products. This allows buyers to communicate their
needs and expectations for certified products to their suppliers
(processors and forest managers), and suppliers to communicate
their needs and challenges to the buyers.
Marketing certified products: once
members achieve certification, the producer FTN can use its links
with all the other FTNs within the global network to connect them
with buyers and help find markets for certified products.
Influencing policy: in several countries
it has become clear that one of the main barriers to certification
is inappropriate law or policy at a national level. Individual
forest managers are relatively powerless in such a situation,
but producer FTNs in such countries may be able to provide a focus
for changing these inappropriate laws or policies.
Supporting small and low impact management
forests: it is now widely recognised that certification can often
pose particular problems for small forests and those with low
impact management such as many community forests. Where such problems
exist, producer FTNs can focus on providing appropriate support
to these groups.
Although many of the problems identified by
the GFTN and its partners may be addressed by the type of producer-focused
FTN described above, it is clear that in many countries a serious
In these countries the current level of forest
management is significantly below what is required for certification.
At the same time, both the institutional framework and many of
the resources required to improve forest management are very limited.
As a result, it can take several years for a forest manager, having
decided to seek certification, to make the improvements needed
to meet the standard. Currently, there are almost no incentives
for forest managers while they are in this process and many either
never begin or else give up before achieving the goal.
Wide discussion with stakeholders around the
world, including GFTN members, has suggested that to overcome
this problem the GFTN needs to find a mechanism to:
provide support for forest managers
to help them move from current practices to the level required
for certification; and
to provide incentives during the
period of improvement, even before a certificate is awarded.
Therefore, the GFTN is now developing the concept
of Transition Timber FTNs. The idea is to bring forest managers
into a structured process which helps them to implement responsible
forest management practices, and in return for ongoing improvements,
provide market access for their wood products. Many buying FTN
members have already expressed strong interest in using transition
timber where certified alternatives are not available and thereby
use their purchasing power to support improvements in forest management.
Clearly there are risks attached to this approach
since it means that for the first time the GFTN will be supporting
products from forests which are not yet certified and therefore
not yet responsibly managed. However, the alternative is to risk
failing to engage forest managers in any process of improvement
resulting in the continued degradation of forests.
To minimise the risk associated with Transition
Timber, the GFTN is in the process of developing a set of detailed
requirements which must be met by any forest manager wishing to
sell transition timber. An outline is provided below.
1. The forest manager must be able to demonstrate
that all timber is from legal sources.
2. The forest manager must be able to demonstrate
that there are no existing problems which might permanently prevent
3. The forest manager must undergo an independent
audit by an audit organisation approved by the FTN manager to:
confirm that all timber is from legal
confirm that there are no existing
issues which preclude certification; and
assess the current level of
performance relative to the requirements of the standard.
4. Based on the audit report the forest
make a formal commitment to seek
certification within a defined timeframe (eg three years); and
develop an action plan showing in
detail how full compliance with the standard will be achieved
within the timeframe agreed.
5. The forest manager may then become a
transition timber member of an FTN and actively market their wood
as "transition timber". However, this must be done on
a business to business basis and any public claims will be strictly
controlled. No labelling of the product will be allowed.
6. Each year the forest manager must undergo
an annual audit to check that the commitments made in the action
plan are being met. The results of the audit must be provided
to the FTN manager.
7. Failure to make progress will result
in expulsion from the group.
This summary is based on a paper setting out
detailed requirements for transition timber producers which is
currently being developed.
One of the baseline requirements for all transition
timber will be that it comes from legal sources. Therefore, transition
timber will also provide a source of products made with wood from
legal sources for all those governments and companies committed
to ending purchases of timber and paper products made with wood
from illegal sources.
In order to link transition timber with the
end users, it will be necessary to develop tracking systems for
transition timber similar to those used for chain of custody of
certified products. This is also being actively addressed.
The GFTN would welcome comments from anyone
who has a view on the development of producer FTNs and the concept
of transition timber. The development work is being undertaken
by ProForest on behalf of the GFTN so you can contact either organisation
at the addresses given below.
As part of the development of transition timber
FTNs, the GFTN is involved in developing the concept of Modular
Implementation and Verification. This approach will break the
requirements for responsible forest management down into a series
of modules, each of which can be implemented and checked independently.
This will provide a framework both for undertaking improvements
and for reporting on improvements made.
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