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Forest Stewardship Council cuts ties with Austrian timber giant over illegal wood, EIA comments

Forest Stewardship Council cuts ties with Austrian timber giant over illegal wood, EIA comments | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) today announced its decision to immediately disassociate from the Austrian timber giant Holzindustrie Schweighofer (Schweighofer), one of its largest members, due to the company’s persistent and indiscriminate sourcing of illegal timber in Romania. The decision follows a year-long investigation by an FSC Expert Panel, which concluded that Schweighofer had created a business “culture” favoring cheap wood over legal wood in its Romanian sourcing.

The decision by the FSC’s Board of Directors reverses the Board’s decision in December to let Schweighofer continue using the FSC’s logo during a period of probation. Following that decision, EIA published results of a follow-up investigation that showed Schweighofer continuing to receive illegal wood. A broad spectrum of NGOs, including EIA, WWF, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth protested FSC’s decision to only put the company on probation. An online petition, calling for the FSC to disassociate from Schweighofer, garnered 250,000 signatories in Romania, Germany, and Austria. The Romanian group De-clic delivered the petitions to FSC’s headquarters in Bonn and urged the Board “to take the right decision and stop endorsing corruption in Romania and stop endorsing illegal logging.”

The FSC Panel’s year-long investigation produced a 110-page report in December 2016, concluding that Schweighofer had purchased illegal timber, sourced logs cut on land stolen from local communities, developed a bonus system that encourages illegal logging, and had an inadequate due diligence system to avoid illegal timber purchases. The Panel recommended that the FSC disassociate itself from Schweighofer until the company can meet a long list of conditions. Chief among these being that the company can trace all its log purchases back to the forest stand.

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American Forest Foundation announces improved tree farm certification standards

American Forest Foundation announces improved tree farm certification standards | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The American Forest Foundation (AFF) today announced the release of its updated Standards of Sustainability for Forest Certification under the American Tree Farm System (ATFS). The Standards, which are revised every five years, are the result of a rigorous, multi-stakeholder process and based on international guidelines for sustainable forest management and conservation.

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The Independent Standards Review Panel (ISRP) developed the revisions based on an extensive public feedback process. The revised Standards include several core revisions to ensure long-term stewardship of America’s forests, including expanding best management practices to encompass water, air and soil, and clarifying management needed to protect threatened and endangered species and forests of recognized importance.


These Standards help guide the work of a wide diversity of people and organizations that make up the American Tree Farm System including landowners, natural resource professionals, ATFS inspectors, group managers, and third-party assessors who evaluate the sustainability of forests. Additionally, because the rigorous Standards are consistent with the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the world’s largest forest certification system, supply chains and organizations using wood produced from ATFS-certified forests can be internationally recognized for sustainable management.

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The revised Standards will govern ATFS certification for the next five years, beginning on January 1, 2015. The ATFS community and certificate holders will have one year to transition to any revisions to the Standards.


Detailed information on the new Standards, including a timeline of key dates in the transition process, can be found on the ATFS website.

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Faulty Green Certification Costing GA Timber Growers Much Green

Faulty Green Certification Costing GA Timber Growers Much Green | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The following is a guest post from Senator Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla)


Some in the media and in politics fail to understand that just because a favored policy of a lawmaker or interest group is described as “green” does not mean it will yield positive environmental outcomes. In addition to failing to stimulate conservation, these policies also may curtail economic activity in a way that hurts many businesses and timberland owners. This can certainly be the case in the forest products industry when policy intended to promote “green building” results in the diminished use of Georgia-grown wood thus reducing the incentive to tree farmers to continue planting and managing environmentally beneficial timberland.


A good example is approach of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) which has failed to heed the advice of a growing chorus of critics who take issue with its definition of “sustainable” timber. The organization’s “LEED” building rating system, which many cities, states and federal agencies use as binding guidelines for energy-efficient building projects, only recognizes a small fraction of Georgia’s wood as being sustainably managed.


Only lumber “certified” by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is formally recognized by the LEED system. Wood certified by the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), by far the majority of Georgia’s certified wood, is not.


This policy can adversely impact heavily-forested states such as Georgia, whose timber industry supports 160,000 jobs. Millions of acres of our forests are certified to ATFS and SFI standards, while just over 30,000 acres are recognized by FSC.

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Timberland Investment Resources Certify Over 600,000 Acres to SFI Standard

Timberland Investment Resources Certify Over 600,000 Acres to SFI Standard | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Today, over 600,000 acres of timberland managed by Timberland Investment Resources, LLC (TIR) have been certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) standard.  TIR's investment footprint spans 14 states, with a significant presence in the southeastern U.S.  Their certification builds on the SFI Forest Partners® Program's previous successes in South Carolina and Florida, as well as the ongoing work with a wide range of medium-sized private and public landowners, and manufacturing facilities.  These certified lands, in addition to the over 500,000 acres recently announced by the St. Joe Company, put the SFI Forest Partners Program well on the road to achieving its 2014 milestone of certifying 5 million acres of forestland to the SFI standard.

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St. Joe Timberlands Certify Half a Million Acres to SFI Standard

St. Joe Timberlands Certify Half a Million Acres to SFI Standard | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Inc. is pleased to announce that over half a million acres of timberland owned by The St. Joe Company have recently been certified to the SFI Standard. The majority of the timberlands are located in Northwest Florida and have become a proof point for responsible forest management certification to the SFI Standard.

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Weyerhaeuser Joins International Voices in Support of Forest Certification

Weyerhaeuser Joins International Voices in Support of Forest Certification | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Weyerhaeuser Company this week joined 25 of the world's leading forest products companies in announcing the need to significantly scale up sustainable forest management.


Weyerhaeuser and the 25 other members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Forest Solutions Group are responsible for nearly 40 percent of annual global forest product, paper and packaging sales. 

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The companies endorsed the announcement following an international discussion including three forest certification systems -- the Forest Stewardship Council, the Sustainable Forest Initiative(R) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification -- at WBCSD's Council Meeting in Istanbul, Nov. 4. The Leadership Statement on the Value and Future of Forest Certification recognizes that reducing forest loss is a global societal priority requiring immediate and concerted action.


Earlier this year, Weyerhaeuser attained international stakeholder membership in the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the world's largest forest certification system and the certification system of choice for small, non-industrial private forests. PEFC, which is made up of large forest owners and hundreds of thousands of family forest owners around the world, has endorsed two North American certifications standards, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. In the United States, PEFC also endorses the American Tree Farm System, which means landowners certified to SFI and Tree Farm also comply with the PEFC's internationally-recognized sustainability benchmark.

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Weyerhaeuser owns, leases or licenses 20.5 million acres of forests in North America certified to SFI, and more than 300,000 acres in Uruguay certified to FSC and PEFC.


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Beware of a Forestry Standard Monopoly

Beware of a Forestry Standard Monopoly | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Forest certification programs establish responsible management practices and standards.  If landowners meet the standards of the program, then the forests are certified by that program, which communicates to consumers and businesses that timber products purchased from this landowner were harvested responsibly.


In the case of forestry management, the definition of “what is responsible” can vary.  And, balancing these conflicting interests is complex to say the least.  Due to this complexity, multiple forestry certification programs have arisen.  The existence of multiple programs allows forest owners and consumers to choose between the alternative costs and benefits based on their own values and constraints.  This competitive process creates a more efficient balancing of the intended and unintended consequences than a monopolistic standard that imposes a standard before a better accounting of the full consequences can be ascertained.


Despite the benefits from competition, some environmental activists favor one program (the Forest Stewardship Council or FSC) and are encouraging that this program be granted monopolistic authority.  A new EconoSTATS paper, authored by Brooks Mendell and Amanda Hamsley Lang (available here), illustrates the dangers from this proposal.


Mendell and Lang found that FSC certification overly restricts the amount of output that can be produced from the same amount of acreage compared to the other major certification programs – the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).   The reduced acreage available for timber harvests leads to smaller harvests of U.S-produced timber compared with the other certification programs. The reduced output leads to income losses that result in lost employment and lost tax revenues.


Direct jobs lost include foresters, loggers, millworkers, and forestry consultants and contractors. Indirect jobs lost include jobs that support the forest industry, such as motor freight transportation, machinery repair, and wholesale trade.  Indirect job impacts also include “induced” jobs created by the spending of workers in the forest industry.


According to Mendell and Lang, these impacts could be quite large if an FSC monopoly were implemented. 

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Domtar helps create new model for responsible forest management with group FSC certification

Domtar helps create new model for responsible forest management with group FSC certification | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
Domtar Corporation (NYSE: UFS) (TSX: UFS) today announced the culmination of a precedent-setting two-year partnership process that saw 55 landowners in the Texarkana area achieve Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) group certification. With the Ashdown Mill's strong support, the Four States Timberland Owners Association (FSTOA) was successful in receiving FSC Forest Management Certification on 70,000 acres of forestland.
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"We have raised the bar for private land certification in the south, and we look forward to seeing the model built in Ashdown being replicated and expanded on throughout our mill system," added Lewis Fix, Domtar's Vice-President of Pulp Sales and until recently, the company's Vice-President of Sustainable Business and Brand Management. "This is a perfect example of how our longstanding collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance continues to help us deliver on our promise of socially and environmentally responsible paper manufacturing."
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True Costs of Green Labeling

True Costs of Green Labeling | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The familiar saying “you get what you pay for” applies in many circumstances. Under certain conditions, however, this statement can be very misleading. For example, when customers pay a higher price for wood and paper products with “green” labels, they may not actually be getting something that is better for the environment. A combination of misguided policies and organized pressure from environmental activists to elevate one forest certification program over all others is creating confusion in the marketplace. As a result, consumers are paying more for wood and paper products that may fall short of their “green” expectations.

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Time, Nat Geo Partner with Sustainable Forestry Initiative

Time, Nat Geo Partner with Sustainable Forestry Initiative | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Four major North American publishers – Time Inc., the National Geographic Society, Macmillan, and Pearson – have joined the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s (SFI) Forest Partners Program as founding members.


The program creates a way for the publishing industry to support SFI’s certification program for forest and forest products. SFI said the new partners will work collectively with the SFI community to make certification more efficient and accessible by providing resources for activities such as shared consulting expertise, group certification or audit coordination.


[Editor: Thanks to Mike Smith at http://www.southem.com for bringing this to our attention]

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Weyerhaeuser Names ATFS-Certified Wood as Preferred Purchase Option

Weyerhaeuser Names ATFS-Certified Wood as Preferred Purchase Option | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Weyerhaeuser Company has announced its preference for purchasing wood certified under the American Tree Farm System, an independent certification designed for US family forest landowners and recognized by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.


Weyerhaeuser, the U.S.-based lumber producer, pulp and paper manufacturer and home builder, will maintain a priority market for material from certified ATFS farms, declare its support for the system in its wood procurement policy, track its use of the wood, and include the certification as an attribute when using its vendor management plan, which scores wood suppliers on a number of metrics. Weyerhaeuser says it also will offer landowner assistance to encourage tree farm certification and the management of forests to the ATFS Standards of Sustainability.

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Beyond Certification

Beyond Certification | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

The existing approach to forest certification is extremely complex and is inflicting significant cost on the forest sector. It is complex in that current systems have become moving targets with ever changing standards and inconsistent interpretations that undermine the credibility of the entire effort. The current approaches to forest certification have created confusion, hypocrisies in the way standards are being applied, and they have failed to adequately address emerging issues such as illegal logging and bioenergy production. Forest certification is also costly. To date, it is likely that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in order to recognize the existing best-managed forestlands in the world. One shudders to think of the costs and the complexities of addressing the remaining forest segment under the current approach. There are many diverse benefits being realized from forest certification, but the focus needs to be on the forest, rather than the process, and the approach needs to be easily applicable to more diverse forest management situations.

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FSC certification yields financial benefits for tropical forest businesses, shows new WWF repor

FSC certification yields financial benefits for tropical forest businesses, shows new WWF repor | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
A new WWF cost-benefit analysis of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on a cross-section of forest operators finds that tropical and small or medium producers, regardless of geography, can benefit significantly from attaining FSC certification.
 
The Profitability and Sustainability in Responsible Forestry: Economic impacts of FSC certification on forest operators report found that on average, the companies examined earned an extra US$1.80 for every cubic metre of FSC-certified roundwood or equivalent, over and above costs associated with certification. The Net Present Value (NPV) of the decision to pursue FSC was, on average, $6.69 per cubic metre of roundwood or equivalent – a strong positive business case overall for the decision to pursue FSC. 
 
These outcomes were achieved through price premiums, increased efficiency and other financial benefits. Results varied significantly by company size and geography. Tropical companies as well as small- and medium-size enterprises – regardless of geography – showed financial gains, while temperate and large producers were found to experience small losses. On average, it took the companies that were studied six years to break even on their investment in FSC.
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SFI updates forestry standards

SFI updates forestry standards | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it
An organization that certifies lumber and paper products as environmentally sustainable has upgraded its standards, but critics say the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards and enforcement remain weak.

SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow says the upgrade released Wednesday came out of a regular five-year reassessment, and tightens standards on clearing large areas of forest, damaging wetlands, and using pesticides.

The revision comes as the environmental group ForestEthics issued a report comparing SFI certification audits in Canadian forests with audits by the Forest Stewardship Council, the other leading forest certification organization. The report found SFI audits were less rigorous than FSC audits and called for fewer corrections to forest practices.
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Group Challenges Timber Producer's 'Green' Label

Group Challenges Timber Producer's 'Green' Label | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A watchdog group is challenging the environmentally friendly "green lumber" certification for Plum Creek Timberlands, one of the nation's biggest landowners and timber producers.

The Center for Sustainable Economy, based in Lake Oswego, Oregon, filed the complaint Thursday with a nonprofit group that verifies whether timber producers follow standards for environmentally responsible logging, including replanting after harvest, protecting water and biological diversity, and complying with environmental laws and regulations.

The complaint covers Plum Creek logging in Oregon's Coast Range, citing 11 civil citations over the past six years for violating state logging regulations, including four citations for exceeding the clear-cutting limit of 120 acres. The complaint includes Google Earth images showing landslides in areas stripped of trees by Plum Creek.

"The fragmentation caused by large clear-cuts is a driver of extinction for wildlife dependent upon interior forest conditions and one of the most damaging ecological impacts associated with forest operations in Oregon," the complaint said.

The company also was cited for failing to protect riparian zones along fish-bearing streams, allowing logging road drainage into a stream and failing to notify state regulators of changes in logging operations.

Seattle-based Plum Creek said in a statement that it was aware of the complaint and reviewing it.


"Plum Creek is committed to practicing sustainable forestry where ever we operate," company spokeswoman Kathy Budinick said in an email. "There is an established process in place for handling such complaints, and we will engage fully in the process to understand and address this complaint."

On its website, the company states prominently that all its timberlands are certified by the nonprofit Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

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Resolute Forest Products Sues Rainforest Alliance Over FSC Audit

Resolute Forest Products Sues Rainforest Alliance Over FSC Audit | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Resolute Forest Products has filed a lawsuit against the Rainforest Alliance over what RFP views as a "biased" and unfairly critical environmental audit of two of its operations in northern Ontario.


Resolute Forest Products AbitibiBowater Agence France-Presse reported that the Rainforest Alliance's recent audit concluded that Resolute Forest Products should be stripped of its certification with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The Rainforest Alliance is one of a handful of companies recognized by FSC to conduct third-party audits to ensure that companies qualify to receive or renew their FSC certification.


The report, which reportedly was to be released this month, has been sealed by virtue of a court-ordered injunction requested by Resolute Forest Council.


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IKEA subsidiary loses forestry accreditation over harvesting of wildlife habitats

IKEA subsidiary loses forestry accreditation over harvesting of wildlife habitats | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

A subsidiary of IKEA that supplies timber to the furniture maker has been stripped of its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation following an audit.


Swedwood Karelia had its FSC certificate suspended after an audit in Russia found a number of problems, including harvesting of “key biotopes”, or important wildlife habitats; the lack of a proper environmental impact assessment; and lack of protective equipment for workers.


A report by the Rainforest Alliance, which carries out audits for the FSC, said: “During the field inspections, auditors found key biotopes had not been identified before harvest and harvested. Harvests of key biotopes were found also at the harvest areas of previous years. That confirmed non conformance to the standard was systematic and lasting over several years.”


The suspension affects 295,348 hectares in the Russian Karelia region.

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China: Green timber preferred overseas but not locally

China: Green timber preferred overseas but not locally | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Forest farms and timber producers that have green certificates to trade internationally are having a difficult time selling their eco-friendly products on the domestic market.

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Chen Qinglai, a manager at Paiyangshan Forest Farm in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said the economic benefits of responsible and sustainable forestry have not been recognized yet in China.
The State-owned forest farm was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council in November 2010, becoming the first forestry center in Guangxi to win certification. The farm, set up in 1955, is 99,300 hectares and was once the biggest forestry in Southeast Asia.


Chen told China Daily the motivation to get certification came from buyers in Europe. "Our client, a timber manufacturer, who buys our wood and sells it to Germany, asked us to get certified as the Germans only buy certified forestry products," Chen said.


The costs, both direct and indirect, of getting certified were around 4 million yuan ($655,000). "Besides the certification fee, the strict standards on environmental aspects inevitably increases forest management costs," Chen said.
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Every year, the farm produces 150,000 to 200,000 cubic meters of timber with about half labeled environmentally friendly. That timber sells for about 30 yuan per cubic meter more than uncertified timber.
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Pan Zhenyue, a senior manager at Liheng Timber Manufacturer in Guangzhou, an FSC certified flooring company, said that using certified timber adds 25 percent to the product cost, but the market price in China is not much different as customers will not spend the extra.

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Forest Certification: What Have We Learned?

Forest Certification: What Have We Learned? | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

What should forestland owners know about forest certification in the U.S.?  Recently published research highlights the inconsistent implementation and varying operational impacts across U.S.-based forest certification programs.  In sum, the findings indicate that forest certification creates, ironically, uncertainty for landowners and, in cases, destroys landowner value while producing unclear forest health benefits, if any, relative to standard and commonly applied best management practices (BMPs).

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More Brands Dump Sustainable Forest Initiative’s Paper Certification Program

More Brands Dump Sustainable Forest Initiative’s Paper Certification Program | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

On Wednesday, ForestEthics announced that more major brands have moved away from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) paper products certification program. Office Depot, Southwest Airlines and Cricket Communications have joined HP in the shift away from the U.S. paper industry-backed SFI in the tussle over certified paper products.


ForestEthics has long alleged that SFI is a front for the paper industry, and a Fall 2010 report accusing SFI of “greenwashing” has been just one battle in the fight between paper certification programs including the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

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Verifying Forest Sustainability

Verifying Forest Sustainability | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Increased talk about the use of woody biomass for energy in the U.S. has many people wondering how best to assure that the fuel and feedstock used by wood energy firms is harvested sustainably. The forest products industry—sawmills and pulp mills, in particular—has been down this road for more than 15 years and many have turned to the major forest certification systems available in the U.S., namely the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the Forest Stewardship Council and the American Tree Farm System. These systems may or may not be the best way to demonstrate the sustainability of feedstock harvesting for the woody biomass energy sector. In the end, your customers’ needs and your company values should drive what you do about forest sustainability.

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Rolling Stones keyboardist gets ‘satisfaction’ opposing green building program

Rolling Stones keyboardist gets ‘satisfaction’ opposing green building program | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

In a Mother Nature Network opinion editorial, Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell offered hearty praise for governors who have recently taken a stand for fairness in forest certification. Leavell, a Georgia resident, cited Peach State Gov. Nathan Deal’s recent executive order that future state building projects are required to “recognize all forest certifications equally” for inspiring the musician’s wonkish praise.

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The move spelled the end of Georgia’s adherence to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in regards to green building standards. LEED only recognizes one form of certification, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and is promoting monopoly in an area that should be ripe for domestic competition.

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Governor Deal’s executive order has now opened the doors to lands certified by standards “like Sustainable Forestry Initiative and American Tree Farm System” and will result in better utilization of resources native to Georgia.

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New timber law in UK, EU starting March 2013

New timber law in UK, EU starting March 2013 | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

Malaysian companies exporting timber to the United Kingdom and European Union (EU) countries must produce documentation tracking shipments through their supply chain back to source from March 3 next year, or be subject to legal sanctions for non-compliance.


In a statement today, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) said the new law prohibits the placing of illegal timber and products derived from such timber on the EU market with operators needing to exercise "due diligence" when selling timber products there.


"For Malaysian exporters, these measures may include additional information requests on the products' details, origin, and legality and so on and certification requests for systems that allow for some legality verification, such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification or equivalent verification scheme as certified timber products represent lower risk for EU operators and buyers.

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Beyond Certification II - Reducing it to a Stronger Solution

Beyond Certification II - Reducing it to a Stronger Solution | Timberland Investment | Scoop.it

We need to leverage our twenty years of experience to boil down the complex list of 100s of possible indicators of sustainability to the top 3, 4, or 5 mandatory and universal building blocks that define good wood. These core components should be measurable, auditable and widely applicable. They should support a vision for the forestry we want to see now and in the future, and the responsible wood products that the marketplace desires. By identifying the cornerstones of sustainable forestry, we will articulate the expertise of our good forest managers and eliminate the confusion in the marketplace.

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