Voluntary legality verification systems
There are a number of voluntary legality verification systems available in the market, some of which may be used to meet market requirements on legality. They are used by forest management companies and manufacturers/traders in the supply chain to respond to requests from their customers of proof that the products supplied have been legally produced. The table below lists the main voluntary legality verification systems available in the market.
Voluntary legality verification systems are not as well-developed as forest certification schemes in the sense that they are not required to be following international good practice (such as ISO Guides) in standard setting process, certification, accreditation, product tracing and labelling. This is due to the fact that there is no accreditation for legality verification systems therefore there is no common approach on how legality verification systems are developed and managed. Voluntary legality verification systems are developed by certification bodies and there are differences how legality is defined, how verification is carried out, and what kind of public claims can be used.
Recent developments include a process to discuss potential of harmonizing legality standards applied by the relevant certification bodies. This process is led by Rainforest Alliance while BV, SGS and SCS actively participate. A range of interested parties supports this process and preliminary results are expected in mid 2011.
TLTV originated in 2005 when SGS began to undertake legality verification audits
for clients in Cameroon and the Republic of Congo in order to provide proof of
legality to customers in the European market. Following the success of these first
audits, the TLTV service was created. Note that since 2010 SGS has offered the
TLTV service in two steps: Verification of Legal Origin (VLO) and Verification of
Legal Compliance (VLC). SGS VLO is only allowed for a maximum of two years at
which point it is required that VLC certification is achieved. There is no limit to how
long VLC is allowed.
VLO and VLC are run by SmartWood, a programme of Rainforest Alliance based in New York, US. The first generic SmartWood VLC and VLO standards were developed in November 2007 and they have recently been revised. SmartWood VLO is potentially only allowed for 3 years at which point it is required that VLC is achieved (decided on a case-by-case basic). VLC is likewise only potentially only allowed for 3 years at which point forest certification such as FSC, should be sought (decided on a case-by-case basis).
The standard for OLB (“Origine et Légalité du Bois” Origin and Legality of Wood)
was developed in 2004 by Eurocertifor (which later became part of Bureau Veritas
Certification) based in Paris, France. The development of this system was based on
forest companies’ need to prove the legality of their activities and of wood supply,
mainly in tropical areas. Eurocertifor developed its first standard based on its
experience in Central Africa and its knowledge of forest legality requirements in
this region. There is no time bound requirement to move towards a higher level of
The LHV standard is a relatively new verification standard developed and managed
by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS).The second standard consultation phase
was concluded in March 2010, and the latest version of both the forest and CoC is
19 July 2010. There is no time bound requirement to move towards a higher level of forest certification.
The Certisource Legality Verification System was launched in March 2007 as a
means to verify the legality of merbau timber products from Indonesia. The latest
version of Certisource legality criteria for Indonesia was finalised in June 2009. It is currently working only with timber concessions and processing sawmills in Indonesia exporting timber and timber products for customers in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Certisource policy is to offer legality verification for a period of up to two years at which point commitment to achieve FSC certification is required.
How the different systems meet the FLEGT VPA Process, the EU Timber Regulation and Public Procurement Policies is outlined in under Defining legality. The page also seeks to clarify how and to what extend VLO and VLC steps deliver compliance with the legality requirements.