PEFC UK Ltd                            DEF0014

Written evidence submitted by PEFC UK Ltd

 

PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, which promotes the sustainable management of the world’s forests through independent, third-party certification.  Sustainably managed forests are those whose management implements performance standards based on internationally agreed environmental, social and economic requirements that form the cornerstones of sustainability. Since its inception in 1999, PEFC has become the world’s largest forest management system and an umbrella organisation for national forest certification schemes, providing an open and transparent assessment and endorsement scheme for national forest certification schemes, with the same high level of standards and credibility. Currently millions of tonnes of PEFC certified wood are being delivered to the processing industry and then on to the market-place from over 328 million hectares of certified forests.

 

PEFC greatly welcomes the opportunity provided by the sub-committee of the Environmental Audit Committee to submit evidence to their Inquiry on Sustainable Timber procurement and deforestation. Momentum to promote the use of sustainably produced products is growing around the world. Overall, wood products have a better environmental record than competitor materials such as concrete and steel in sustainable construction.  A uniquely renewable material, wood has the lowest energy consumption and the lowest level of carbon dioxide emissions than most widely used building materials. 

 

PEFC would like to make the following comments to the specific questions raised by the sub-committee about the role that sustainable certification and Government Buying Standards have in tackling deforestation and how the Government can support the private sector in reducing its contribution to furthering deforestation.

 

The UK has previously demonstrated global leadership in responsible sourcing. In 2005, the UK government led the way in the development of demanding criteria for the procurement of timber and timber-based products when it published its Timber Procurement Policy (TPP) as part of its commitment to tackle deforestation and illegal logging. It subsequently developed the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) to help government buyers and suppliers implement its policy. As the UK is the second largest timber importer in the world and a large proportion of timber is used on the government estate, there is/was widespread recognition that CPET has played a significant role in driving demand for sustainable timber around the globe.

 

Although the work at CPET was suspended in 2017 the TPP policy is still in place on the Government’s web site https://www.gov.uk/guidance/timber-procurement-policy-tpp-prove-legality-and-sustainablity  and it is still influencing specifiers of wood based products throughout the UK. PEFC UK would welcome the review and further support for this policy as this would save Government time and resource, rather than re-inventing the wheel with something different, but with the same outcomes. The Dutch Government produce something similar with their Timber Procurement Assessment Commitment (TPAC) which now appears to have greater influence throughout Europe and wider afield, than the now largely dormant CPET. These policies, which both include PEFC certified products, allow specifiers and buyers to buy wood-based material with confidence, knowing that they are buying sustainable and legal material and not contributing to deforestation.

 

We also believe that the CPET assessments and outcomes achieved an effective balance between the credible certification of sustainable forest management (SFM) systems and the need for choice in a free market.

 

Therefore, a credible Government Buying Standard, along the lines of the previous TPP, which is implemented by all Government departments and agencies will not only assist in tackling deforestation on a global scale but also ensure that the UK Government is once more seen as the leader in public procurement.

Note: We have recently heard that a possible revision of the TPP will begin in the near future.

 

Timber imports into the UK are also assessed through a due diligence system to meet the requirements of the UK Timber Regulation (UKTR). At the moment credible forest certification systems, such as PEFC, are not seen as a green lane for this legislation, as they are voluntary systems. Including schemes such as PEFC as meeting the requirements of the UKTR would speed up the due diligence procedure and stimulate better specification for certified timber, resulting in growth of certified forest area. This allows for more global forests to be brought under sustainable forest management with a decrease in deforested land. It would also save time and resources for those many companies having to undertake due diligence on imports.

 

The UK Government should also give greater recognition of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS). UKWAS is a third-party certification standard for UK woodlands designed to reflect the governmental UK Forestry Standard and the Pan-European Operational Level Guidelines adopted in Lisbon in 1998.The standard also reflects the requirements of sustainable forest management set out by schemes such as PEFC and in turn is endorsed by PEFC International. Providing support to get more UK woodlands under certification will also improve the homegrown timber market supply of sustainable products and reward those companies that invest in forest management certification and chain of custody.

 

 

September 2022