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The UK public procurement policy on timber

Overview of the policy

The UK Government’s timber procurement policy requires that all timber and wood-derived products must be from only independently verifiable legal and sustainable sources which can include from a licensed Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) partner) will be demanded for use on the government estate.  Appropriate documentation will be required to prove it.  

Timber which only meets the legality criteria will be accepted in very special cases only, see exemptions to the policy below. As an alternative, contracting authorities can demand recycled timber.

The policy is mandatory for all Central Government Departments, Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies. Local authorities, other public bodies and the private sector are also encouraged to adopt sustainable timber procurement policies.

Details on the policy can be found in the Timber Procurement Advice Note (revised June 2013)
                                                                  

An overview of the policy can be found in this leaflet (which can be used to raise awareness of the policy amongst colleagues, contractors, supplier etc.)

Hard copies can be requested by contacting CPET

Implementing the policy through contract clauses back to top

The policy is implemented through specification text and contract clauses which stipulate the policy's requirements with regard to the timber and wood-derived products that you are aiming to purchase. The annexes of the Timber Procurement Advice Note provide model text which you can simply copy/paste in your specifications, invitations to tender and contracts. See for more information on this here.

Evidence of compliance with the policy back to top

Once you have included the correct contract clauses in your contracts, your contractor or supplier is required to send you evidence that the products they are delivering comply with the policy. This evidence should certify that the supplied products are derived from (independently verifiable) legal and sustainable sources or are FLEGT licensed. The evidence needs to cover two aspects. First it needs to cover the chain of custody from the forest of origin to the final user, so that supplied timber can be traced back to its origin. Second, it needs to verify that the timber is legally extracted and that the forest of origin is sustainably managed or FLEGT-licensed.

Evidence of legality and sustainability can come in two forms:

  • Category A evidence is independent certification of the timber and timber products by any of the forest certification schemes that meet the policy requirements (such as FSC and PEFC). See a full list of approved schemes here.
  • Category B evidence is alternative documentary evidence that provides assurance that the source is legal and sustainable. More information on how to collect and evaluate category B evidence here.

These two forms of evidence can be combined, for example when the forest of origin is certified, but the chain of custody is not.  

Evidence of FLEGT-licensed origin or equivalent back to top

EU FlagsWhat is FLEGT? FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) is an EU initiative to support countries to address illegal logging. A key component of FLEGT will be a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between producer partner countries and the EU. These VPAs will include a timber licensing scheme which will certify that timber meets the requirements of FLEGT. Most timber or timber products imported from VPA partner countries into the EU will need to be accompanied by a FLEGT licence. More information on the FLEGT regulation is available here.

FLEGT licensed timber In order to meet the UK Government's timber procurement policy, adequate supply chain controls should be in place in order to demonstrate that the timber or timber products delivered have been imported with a FLEGT license or equivalent. More information on providing evidence of FLEGT licensed origin is available here.

Exemptions to the policy back to top

The policy applies to all timber and wood-derived products used on the government estate in furniture, paper, construction including temporary site works and material supplied by contractors such as scaffolding, hoardings and shuttering. Short-rotation coppice is exempt from the policy requirements and falls under agricultural regulation and supervision rather than forestry.

Only in situations where a particular type of product or timber species is needed (e.g. for use in marine defences or refurbishment of an historic building) and no legal and sustainable or FLEGT source is available will exceptions to the requirements be accepted.

In the event of such a situation, CPET should be contacted and provided with:

  1. A documented justification setting out why no alternative can be used;
  2. Evidence that the source of material was legally managed;

Additionally, preference should be given to material from sources that are demonstrably in an active programme to improve and certify forest management - CPET can provide up-to-date information.  

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland back to top

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not mandated to comply with UK Government policies, but CPET is available with support and guidance and alignment is encouraged.

For policy information from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, see the following links:

 Scottish government - Timber Annex (2009) 

 Buy4Wales (with reference to the UK policy)

 Central Procurement Directorate Northern Ireland

The Defra 'Government Buying Standards' back to top

government buying standardsThe Defra 'Government Buying Standards' provide sustainable specifications designed specifically for procurers. 'Government Buying Standards', formerly known as 'Quick Wins' are specifically designed for procurers. They are a set of sustainable specifications for a range of commonly-purchased products, such as IT equipment, white goods, paper (including tissue), etc. The products assessed were chosen for their environmental/financial impact, scope for environmental improvement and political or example-setting function.

'Government Buying Standards' are comprised of both a set of mandatory minimum standards at the market average level and best practice specifications.  These best practice specifications are more stretching than the mandatory minimum and are voluntary for those procurers that wish to purchase the "best in class" products in certain areas.  These are likely to become the minimum over different time periods depending on the product or product group. 

All central government departments and their executive agencies have sustainable operations targets to meet, covering areas such as energy efficiency, water consumption, waste, etc.  'Government Buying Standards' can assist in meeting these targets for various product groups, including paper, construction and furniture.

For more info, please visit the Government Buying Standards page.

The Government Buying Standards are the UK Government’s implementation of the EU Green Public Procurement. For more information refer to the European Commission website Green Public Procurement section.

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