What is forest certification?
Forest certification is a voluntary process. An independent third party — the certifier or certification body — assesses the quality of forest management and production against a set of requirements called ‘standards’ predetermined by a certification organisation. Forest certification, and associated labelling, informs consumers about the sustainable management of the forests from which timber and other forest products were produced and/or the legality of the products.
How is forest certification different to FLEGT licensing?
FLEGT licensing and forest certification schemes are complementary initiatives that work at different scales. FLEGT licensing operates at the national scale, while certification operates at the scale of the forest management unit. Certification is a voluntary initiative that companies can choose or decline to undertake. In contrast, FLEGT licensing and related legality verification are compulsory and apply across entire countries.
FLEGT-licensed timber meets all the requirements of VPAs and the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), and therefore is automatically considered legal. Certification, on the other hand, helps companies to exercise due diligence but is not automatically a proof of legality. It assists with compliance with the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation but does not replace a FLEGT licence.
Under the EUTR, certification schemes are not considered as a proof of legally harvested timber, but they can contribute to meeting the due diligence requirement.
Forest certification standards targeting at sustainable forest management however can be more far-reaching than legality definitions under VPAs.
Why do I need a FLEGT licence when my company is already certified by a certification body?
FLEGT licences are a legal requirement for all imports into the EU of shipments of timber products listed in the VPA of a partner country that has started FLEGT licensing. Imports into the EU of such timber products exported by a partner country will be prohibited unless the shipment is covered by a valid FLEGT licence.