What is legality verification?
Verification refers to the process of checking that the forest management and supply chain controls meet a defined set of requirements; in this case, legality. It usually involves audits of forest management units and processing facilities, including field inspections, and reviews of documentation and management systems.
Legality verification systems can be broadly categorised into two types:
Mandatory legality verification
Voluntary legality verification
Mandatory Legality Verification
Mandatory legality verification programmes are implemented by, or on behalf of, governments. They are applicable at national or sub-national level. There are three main types of mandatory programmes globally:
1. legality assurance and export licensing that will be required for the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the EU FLEGT Action Plan;
2. national or sub-national government regulation and documentation, and
3. control services delegated by governments to private sector firms, such as the Mandatory Legal Timber Validation (MLTV) services offered by SGS.
A range of organisations provide voluntary legality verification systems. The most commonly used legality verification systems are those developed by certification bodies (CBs), sometimes referred to as conformity assessment bodies. These are organisations that are accredited by independent competent bodies to relevant ISO Guides to ensure that they follow internationally recognised best practice for auditing for forest certification schemes such as FSC and PEFC. However, it is important to note that there is no accreditation for legality verification systems.