FLEGT-licensed timber or equivalent
What is FLEGT?
FLEGT stands for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. This is an EU Action Plan which aims to support improvements to forest governance around the world.
A key part of the FLEGT Action Plan is the negotiation of bilateral Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) between the European Union and timber-producing countries. Under the terms of a VPA a country agrees with the EU to implement a timber licensing system. From that country, the EU will only accept FLEGT-licensed products and unlicensed products will be refused customs clearance with the aim of preventing illegal products from entering the EU market. For more information see our FLEGT Regulation section.
FLEGT and public procurement policies
Based on the development of the first FLEGT VPAs, it is now clear that the agreements deliver much more than legality and sustainability at the forest management unit level. A briefing note, commissioned by the EU FLEGT Facility, explains how the VPAs complement forest certification and can help public procurement policies deliver a wider set of policies aimed at promoting and supporting long term sustainability of forests. This briefing note can be found here.
FLEGT-licensed timber and the UK public procurement policy
Once a licensing scheme has been established in a VPA partner country, licensed timber products arriving in the EU from that country should be accompanied by appropriate licence documentation (effectively, the "FLEGT licence") which will be checked at import. It is expected that the first licensing schemes will become operational by early 2012.
From that moment onwards It will be necessary for suppliers of timber and timber derived products to have adequate supply chain controls in place from the point of import to the point of delivery to Contracting Authorities in order to demonstrate that the material being delivered was FLEGT-licensed. This is exactly the same as for any Category B-based evidence and could take the form of:
- A certified generic chain of custody system; or
- Adequate documented evidence of supply chain control.
Once a FLEGT-licensing system is fully operational the FLEGT licence will apply to relevant products from the partner country.
Currently there is no FLEGT-licensed timber available in the market. Further detailed guidance from CPET will follow when FLEGT-licensed timber becomes available. For up-to-date information on the availability of FLEGT-licensed timber, see the FLEGT Regulation section.
FLEGT equivalent timber
When a VPA between the EU and a timber-producing country has been signed but the licensing system is not yet in operation, timber from that country may be accepted. After a VPA has been signed, it is expected that there will be an interim period before a licensing system becomes fully functional. However, an individual timber producer in a country that has entered into a VPA may have put in place all the requirements for the licensing system prior to its official implementation (which would then make the licensing applicable to all exporters to the EU). In such cases, timber exported by that individual timber producer will be considered to meet the requirements of the UK Government's timber procurement policy where it meets all of the FLEGT requirements. The timber must also meet requirements for independently-verified compliance and supply chain controls that would apply if the licensing system were in place. In respect of timber from a particular origin, this option will be applicable only for an agreed period, reflecting the timetable agreed between the EU and the timber-producing country. For further advice on this, please contact CPET.
Equivalent evidence from countries that have not entered into a VPA and that demonstrates that all of the stringent FLEGT requirements have been met will be acceptable (as with all Category B evidence). These stringent requirements for equivalent evidence currently include criteria such as: a broad definition of legality developed through a multi-stakeholder process, application of the definition at the national level and to all exports within a product range, independent monitoring of the system and strengthening the capacity of forest law enforcement agencies to eliminate illegal timber production in the country or region. The guidance on equivalence to FLEGT requirements will be refined as VPAs are developed and signed. All queries concerning FLEGT equivalence should be referred to CPET.
FLEGT-licensed timber which has been processed in a third country may also be acceptable. Where FLEGT-licensed timber is exported from a country that has entered into a VPA to a country outside the EU for further processing prior to import into the EU, there must be adequate chain of custody controls in place to ensure that the material used in a product was covered by a FLEGT licence immediately prior to processing, and that no other timber other than acceptable legal and sustainable timber was used in the product. Further advice on this is available from CPET..
See here for useful links and documents.