WWF UK Forest & Trade Network – A view on meeting government timber procurement requirements
Julia is currently acting as the WWF UK representative on the CPET Reference Board, advising DEFRA on matters concerning the Government’s timber procurement policy. She is the Manager of the Forest & Trade Network (FTN) for WWF UK. The FTN started life in 1991, and currently works with nearly 50 diverse UK companies from different business sectors on responsible purchasing of forest products. The FTN is part of WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) which links more than 360 companies, communities, NGOs, and entrepreneurs in more than 30 countries around the world. Together, the goal is to create a new market for environmentally responsible forest products.
For all participants in the FTN, or indeed for any organization planning to address the nature of the timber materials they are sourcing, some key questions can get you started once you have decided to check your purchases. What do I ask for? What satisfies the requirement to source responsibly? Where do I find this material? How do I make sure I have received the right goods? CPET resources are available to tell you the “what”, and a good first step that any organization can take is to check if your buyers are clearly asking for products that meet government timber procurement requirements when you make a purchase or contract. Don’t be too afraid to make these requests of your suppliers – many mainstream suppliers are already aware of the government procurement requirements, and in fact are waiting for the requests to catch up with their ability to provide legal and sustainable timber.
FTN provides its members with examples of how to specify timber products with particular preferences, and we use what we call a “stepwise” approach to moving purchases progressively away from unknown or unwanted sources, to legal and sustainable ones. If you want to follow a similar approach, perhaps a coarse appraisal of your purchases split between what timber came from a CPET approved source i.e. FSC, and that which did not, may give you an idea of where you may have a problem meeting the procurement requirements, and where you can focus your attention in making follow ups. For example, you may not have been receiving approved items in a particular product group, or where materials have been sourced by a particular supplier, or on items that are ordered at short notice and bought from vendors that are used infrequently and who do not know your requirements. Remember – you really can start making a big difference just by giving clear instructions to your suppliers and contractors: indicating to your supplier what to provide as a first choice and always asking for confirmation upfront that this is what you received when they provide you with an invoice. Tackling the nature of your timber spend really can help with initiatives aimed at ending the purchase of forest products from illegal and controversial sources.
The WWF UK FTN website has links to two documents which can be useful to understand where problems may lie, and how to go about tackling them. These are Keep it legal - Best Practices for Keeping Illegally Harvested Timber Out of Your Supply Chain and Guide to Responsible Purchasing of Forest Products, which can be found on our publications page at http://www.wwf.org.uk/ftn/report.asp . The FTN will also be updating guidance specifically aimed at local authorities this year. If your organisation needs help to understand the government requirements, CPET run a series of training workshops throughout the year. FSC UK can also offer training to give a background in forest certification and chain of custody, standards, sourcing and marketing. You can also contact the WWF UK FTN for more information:
James Horne, FTN Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
tel 01483 412578
And see more about the FTN at our website www.wwf.org.uk/ftn