Three leading EU importers see the imminent arrival of the first legally-assured-at-source FLEGT-licensed timber and wood products as a significant step forward for the European trade and its suppliers.
However STTC participant James Latham of the UK, Fepco of Belgium and STTC participant Dekker Hout of the Netherlands, all among first receivers of FLEGT-licensed products, also stress a continuing over-riding commitment to sustainably sourced timber.
Lathams Ltd is awaiting receipt of licensed door blanks from PT Kutai Timber Indonesia, sourced via UK agent Pacific Rim Wood.
“To get tropical hardwood supplier like Indonesia, whose [legality] reputation was tarnished many years ago, to achieve FLEGT is huge,” said Managing Director and Chairman Chris Sutton. “Tropical illegal logging has been the bête noir of our industry. This step change will give buyers and customers real assurance.”
Pan-European plywood specialist FEPCO, which is expecting its first FLEGT-licensed product from Kayu Lapis Indonesia, takes an equally positive view.
“We see FLEGT licensing as the best proof of legality we can have and a means of convincing buyers who were reluctant in the past [to purchase Indonesian wood products],” said Managing Director Alexander de Groot. “It will improve our image and that of the trade, and, in giving EUTR exemption, will save a lot of time on due diligence.”
Solid timber, wood products and sheet material supplier Dekker Hout, which is getting its first licensed product from Kayu Lapis and Intracawood, describes Indonesia’s implementation of FLEGT as a “great achievement”.
“It should help increase Indonesia’s EU trade and it’s a source of pride for them, which is positive and justifiable,” said Mr Dekker. “We should now incentivise FLEGT licensed demand by ensuring EUTR is rigorously enforced and not a paper tiger.”
At the same time, Chris Sutton emphasised that sustainability is Latham’s ultimate objective. “FLEGT-licensed timber strengthens our environmental policy further, but we also continue to make positive steps to only stocking material from correctly managed, sustainable forests,” he said. “All our ten UK depots are FSC and PEFC certified and we signed the declaration of support for WWF’s 2020 Forest Campaign.”
FSC-certified FEPCO feels FLEGT licensing also underlines supplier commitment to many sustainability criteria.
“The FLEGT legality definition ensures that forest law requirements are applicable, consistent, understandable and enforceable – and also reflects supplier countries’ social, economic and environmental objectives,” said Mr de Groot.
Sustainability is the primary aim of Dekker Hout too.
“While FLEGT-licensing is significant, we must avoid traders settling only for legality assurance,” said Mr Dekker. “Sustainability remains our principal purchasing criteria. In fact our first FLEGT-licensed cargo is also 100% FSC-certified.”