In the modern world of timber, and for that matter all global resources, the question of sustainability and the responsible stewardship of nature is paramount. The EUTR or EU Timber Regulation was designed to set a standard of best practices in timber harvesting. Still, for many in the industry what that actually means, in terms of real-world applications is not plainly understood.
The EU Timber Regulation was implemented in full force on 3 March 2013 by the European Union in conjunction with the FLEGT or Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. The intention behind this edict was to stamp out the trade and sale of illegally harvested timber, as it was not formally restricted prior to 2003. The regulations are targeted to promote responsible timber acquisition practices amongst lumber operators.
The full weight of these regulations apply to nearly every variety of timber, including products like paper and pulp and operators are expected to scrutinize even these derivatives. In order to accomplish this goal, the EUTR has put in place three essential requirements for operators who want their timber sold in the European markets.
· Detailed Record Keeping
Under the regulations, traders are identified as any induvial or entity that sells and purchases timber already on the market. Once timber has been initially put on the market traders are expected to record who the timber was purchased from and to whom that timber was eventually sold. In this fashion, should someone be identified selling illegal timber that purchase can be tracked.
· Expected due diligence
Operators have certain expectations placed on them in the form of expected behaviours under the law. Under the EUTR operators initially bringing timber to the EU market must implement due diligence in determining the timber’s nature. To do this having access to accurate information on the transport of the timber is key. Additionally, information on the timber’s source is essential and this includes data on the species of the wood in question. Careful steps must be taken at this stage to reduce the amount of illegal timber on the market.
· Garnering assistance
In regards to the shared role of operators and the monitoring organization, the EUTR asserts that the development of a useful due diligence system. This system can be developed from within the operator’s organisation or can be taken from the framework of the overseeing organization. The external authority must be authorized by the European Commission to assist operators in this regard.
Ensuring the sustainable harvesting of timber is one of the main goals of both the EUTR and the FLEGT. Illegal timber sources are often pulled from species that are endangered. In some circumstances, the harvesting process is deemed illegal for ethical reasons. Traders, operators, retailers adhere to the EU Timber Regulations for the purposes of certification and for access to the lucrative European markets. By regulating endangered timber from depleted sources on the edge of ecological disaster, the EUTR supports sustainability worldwide. To ensure their inclusion in the markets organisations works to meet the requirements of third-party forest certification programs. These efforts help companies to reduce their carbon footprints and curb the dangers of over-harvesting timber by reducing the demand for illegally harvested timber.