Certification schemes lay out EUDR compliance support


Photo: Satellite image NASA

A recent series of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) webinars have detailed its guidance and support to help certified companies meet EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) obligations. The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is also progressing alignment of its system and standards with the EUDR to aid PEFC-certified businesses’ compliance

The FSC webinars and recordings which are available on its website, covered its FSC EUDR Aligned Standard, which will be launched in June this year as an added option for all FSC-certified companies. Within this, its EUDR Regulatory Module will provide added components on avoiding implications in deforestation and forest degradation and take companies through EUDR alignment of due diligence processes and reports.

FSC has also been explaining how its new FSC Blockchain platform will work. This is designed to enable certified companies, including operator first placers, large traders, and exporters from the EU, to meet the EUDR’s demand for geolocation coordinates for the origin of timber and wood products. The platform will enable businesses to transmit product origin and harvest data throughout the supply chain. Confidentiality of sourcing information is key, says the FSC, and only those who upload data to the system will be able to say who can access it. Competent authorities are also kept informed on how it will operate and help generate due diligence statements for submission to the EU.

Ahead of the EU benchmarking supplier countries under the EUDR as low, standard, or high risk of commodity production being linked to deforestation and forest degradation, FSC is additionally revising 20 of its 60 country risk assessments, looking at risks of illegality and unsustainable practice.  Its new Risk Assessment Framework will be unveiled in June, with the 20 revised national assessments available by January 2025.

The PEFC ran a webinar ‘On the path to EUDR alignment’ on February 27 giving the latest on the development of its sustainable forest management and chain of custody standards to help certified companies satisfy the regulation. A PEFC Sustainable Forest Management Working Group has worked on ‘identifying and validating gaps between its sustainable forest management standard and EUDR requirements’. The COC standard is out for consultation until May 7th. The SFM benchmark standard is due to go out to consultation in May, for 60 days.

The organisation is developing an EUDR-adapted due diligence system (DDS) too, to enable companies to implement the regulation. This will be compatible with the existing PEFC DDS in its chain of custody standard. The new system, says PEFC, will actually go further than EUDR requirements by also covering its controversial sources definition.

By implementing the PEFC EUDR Module alongside the PEFC SFM and Chain of Custody Standards, it says operators will ensure they are undertaking due diligence in line with the EUDR’s requirements, including on risk assessment and definitions of controversial sources and deforestation.

The organisation is also focusing on the EUDR’s demand for timber geolocation data from forests used for timber products. “Certified organisations and PEFC members can expect guidance on how best to approach EUDR compliance data issues, including, where appropriate, suggested standardised methods for obtaining, storing, and presenting necessary data,” it states.

PEFC are looking to collaborate with commercial software providers to allow owners/managers to upload geolocation coordinates into the software company EUDR solutions. Operators will have the responsibility to upload Due Diligence statements and geolocation data to the EU Information centre where they will receive a reference number. DDS information, geolocation data and EU reference numbers will be able to be shared appropriately using commercial software company solutions. PEFC will release details of partnerships in due course.

The FSC has also revised its deforestation/forest land conversion cut-off date, after which they cannot be certified, to the end of 2020 to match the EUDR.  The FSC proviso is that forest restitution and restoration has taken place between its earlier 1994 cut-off point and the new date. Concerning the issue of any change to the PEFC’s conversion cut-off point (which is currently 2010) and restoration, this would be up to its Working Group to decide. FSC and PEFC stress that their certification schemes will not give businesses a ‘green lane’ through the EUDR. It will be the responsibility of individual certified companies to undertake the requisite due diligence.   But they say the adaptation of their systems and standards to EUDR requirements will go a long way in aiding and providing guidance on compliance.


The Selva Maya is aiming to broaden customer base


Photo: Rainforest Alliance 

Selva Maya community forest owners in the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula and forest concessions in Guatemala are looking to broaden the customer base for their timber and non-timber forest products, reports the NGO Rainforest Alliance (RA).

RA recognises that there is work to be done to achieve this objective. “These timber forest community enterprises primarily rely on trading mahogany and cedar and [to date have been] unable to take advantage of the over 100 lesser known timber species in the region, which are also commercially viable,” says RA. “This is due to minimal current market demand, inadequate data, irregular and inadequate supplies, poor grading, and knowledge of timber species required in new markets. Moreover, the timber and non-timber product information is not available online, leading to poor engagement with industry leaders who hold the key to driving consumption in national, regional, and international markets.”

Alongside other organizations and government bodies, RA has worked in the Selva Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala for over 30 years, working on projects in forest conservation, to improve livelihoods, and targeting several other sustainable development goals. It has been involved with initiatives to secure rights of tenure and to strengthen the technical capacity and sustainability of forest operations through certification in both countries.  “This work has become more important as multiple challenges have been identified in the region, including deforestation, illegal logging, habitat fragmentation, and more,” says RA.

Selva Maya is the second largest tropical rainforest in the Americas, after Amazonia. It extends from northern Guatemala through Belize to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It has a megadiverse ecosystem that offers key ecosystem services, from carbon sequestration to water capture and is home to a rich diversity of wildlife from jaguars, critically endangered Central American river turtles, white-lipped peccaries, and scarlet macaws to still undiscovered insects and plants.

In the Yucatan Peninsula, which has 70% forest cover, community forest operations called ejidos are the stewards of the Selva Maya’s northern edge, managing forests for timber and traditional non-timber forest products including Ramon seed, Xate palm, chicle, and honey. “This kind of sustainable management crucially forms a defence against illegal logging, land conversion, and forest degradation and is critical for the Yucatan Peninsula’s rural economy,” says the RA.

In Guatemala in the late 1990s and early 2000s rights to timber and non-timber forest resources were granted through concession contracts to 12 community organizations and two private timber companies in the multiple-use zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The 25-year contracts allowed people to economically benefit from the forest through sustainable forest management, under the basis that would have to be FSC certified.

This arrangement, says RA, has shown community forest management can preserve forests given the right regulations and partners working together to create market-based solutions. Consequently, deforestation in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve is down to almost zero (0.4%), and forest fires have been significantly reduced.  Last year, the National Council of Protected Areas of Guatemala extended nine of the 12 community concessions for a further 25 years and granted two new ones.

RA says that the future of communal forestry activity on the Yucatan Peninsula is still uncertain. Due to multiple challenges, the ejidos have struggled to build successful forest product businesses and fully reap the economic benefit of the rapid growth of the Maya Riviera region’s tourist economy. But it maintains that across the Selva Maya in Mexico and Guatemala, forest operators have now attained a level ‘to access more responsible markets and maintain sustainability’.  Consequently, as the STTC/F&P newsletter previously reported, in June 2023, RA organised a trade mission from Europe ‘to find ways of improving the marketing of timber from the Mexican and Guatemalan community forests’.

Among the participants were the ATIBT, Probos and Precious Woods. They held ‘intense and constructive’ talks in Tulum, Mexico with ejidos representatives, before spending several days visiting the Selva Maya forest in both Mexico and Guatemala. Among the recommendations to come out of the mission were the establishment of a regional forest and timber association and a marketing strategy around the Wood of Selva Maya brand. Other conclusions were that Mexican forest operations had the potential to develop timber sales in the domestic market, while exports were seen as the prime opportunity for Guatemalan businesses.

Exploring paths to forest conservation


Photo: CIFOR

Sustainable forest management, underpinned and incentivised by effectively policed sustainable, legal timber supply chains can help combat deforestation, said International Tropical Timber Organisation Executive Director Sheam Satkuru at COP28.

Meanwhile, it’s reported that deforestation in Brazil halved in 2023, falling to its lowest level since 2018. At the same time, research continues into what the best tools are for ensuring sustainable forest management and effective governance to maintain forest areas. One recent study shows that the granting of legal ‘titles’ to industrial logging concessions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has little effect, whereas another concludes that certification in South America is effective in the battle against deforestation.

At the High-level Dialogue of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) at COP28, Ms Satkuru said sustainable timber harvesting provides forest owners with a financial incentive to maintain their forests. But it requires robust, verifiable information on the legality and sustainability of the wood products in the marketplace. “Such information is important because it enables consumers to support the efforts of timber suppliers who are managing their forests legally and sustainably,” she said, adding that timber suppliers also needed sufficient compensation for their commitment to sustainability. “Sustainable forestry costs money, and consumers need to be informed that rewarding legal and sustainable timber is essential for retaining forests, along with their rich biodiversity and all the other forest values.” Ms Satkuru said sustainable forestry and legal and sustainable timber supply chains must also be complemented by cutting subsidies for competing land uses. “If we disincentivize forestry by incentivizing competing land-use sectors we will be at the losing end,” she said. She also highlighted other financial mechanisms that should be employed, and steps taken to reinforce the foundations of sustainable forest management. These included carbon financing, payments for ecosystem services, and the development of sustainable business models for non-timber forest products, many of which have global markets.

According to a report by Reuters, Brazil’s authorities are attributing the sharp fall in deforestation in the country last year to a crackdown on illegal logging by environmental policing agency Ibama, following the election of President Lula da Silva. Satellite data from Brazilian space agency INPE showed 5,153 km2 of forest were cleared in 2023, a reduction of 49.9% on 2022. The Environment Ministry put this down to ‘decisive’ inspection efforts by Ibama, reporting that the number of ‘notices of infraction’ it issued against illegal logging rose 106% over the year. “This is the first step towards achieving the goal of zero deforestation by 2030,” it stated.

Among efforts in the DRC to combat forest loss has been a supposed stronger policing framework of forestry, including ‘titling’ of industrial logging concessions, established in 2002. The impact of this has been investigated by CIFOR, which looked at levels of forest loss inside and outside 55 industrial logging concessions granted titles in 2011 and 2014. The conclusion was that there was little difference. CIFOR’s analysis showed that forests near human settlements are at as much risk of deforestation outside of the concessions as within them. This suggests industrial loggers have so far failed to control encroachment of informal farmers, loggers, and miners into their grounds. “Concession titling without strict environmental safeguards has a low impact on deforestation and forest degradation,” says CIFOR.

But research by Pushpendra Rani and Erin Sills, respectively of the Universities of Illinois and North Carolina State, concludes that FSC certification can be effective in its objective to maintain forest.  They studied the impacts of certification in the Brazilian states of Pará and Rondônia. The conclusion was that the effects were ‘heterogenous’ across areas of differing biophysical, governance and market characteristics, but that ‘oversight of sustainable forest management, even when entirely voluntary, can reduce deforestation’. “Of course, timber harvest also affects the quality of the forest, but we contend that in the context of the [pre-President Lula] surge of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, the primary issue is whether forest remains standing,” state the researchers.

Fair&Precious Partners In the Spotlight


In our In the Spotlight interviews with Fair&Precious partners we ask them about their perspectives on partnership and prospects for the sustainable tropical timber sector. Here we talk to Michael Jakobsen, Regional Director Business Development of Preferred by Nature, the organisation that provides sustainability certification services and supports land and business management practices that benefit people, nature and climate (www.preferredbynature.org)

STTC/F&P newsletter: How would you describe Preferred by Nature; who you are, what you do and what you stand for?

Michael Jakobsen (MJ): Preferred by Nature is a non-profit organization that has promoted sustainable forest management (SFM) practices and responsible sourcing through partnerships and broad stakeholder initiatives across forest and timber sectors for more than 30 years.


  • Support rigorous certification solutions and offer robust auditing of legal and responsible forest management practices and downstream supply chains
  • Provide tailored services to companies on responsible sourcing policies and due diligence practices that are aligned with, for example the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR)
  • Capacity build through training courses, seminars, and webinars run globally
  • Engage in projects to build capacity, raise awareness, conserve nature, and streamline sustainability through innovation.


STTC/F&P: Why did you become a Fair&Precious partner?

MJ: Preferred by Nature share the vision of F&P to grow European sales of verified sustainable tropical timber to incentivise responsible forest management in tropical countries.We recognize the need for joint efforts of stakeholders across regions and supply chains to achieve the vision and see the F&P and STTC initiatives as important in this respect.

STTC/F&P: Is your activity providing sustainability certification services and legality validation in the tropical timber sector a significant part of your work?

MJ: We work with partners at all steps of the supply chain to evaluate and provide assurance of legal and responsible forest management practices. Certification of forest management to robust legality and sustainability standards has high priority for Preferred by Nature, not least in the tropics where we work with partners in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We recently certified Sabah Forest Department and Deramakot Forest Reserve to FSC and Preferred by Nature Standards. In consumer markets for tropical forest products, including timber from natural forests, but also timber, rubber and biomass from plantations, companies are implementing due diligence systems requiring transparent supply chains and assurance of legal and responsible management practices based on, for instance FSC, PEFC, SBP or Preferred by Nature (formerly LegalSource) certification. This development is driven by legislation but also companies’ own policies that may go beyond legal requirements.

STTCF&P:  It’s widely regarded that a viable market for certified sustainable and legal tropical timber can underpin uptake of SFM. However, the European tropical timber sector has battled to hold on to market share. What would you say are its challenges?

MJ: Preferred by Nature is not an actor directly involved in the value chain and so does not have the same hands-on feel with the factors impacting the European market for tropical timber as many of our partners do. However, we see some factors that seem to influence the market, one of them being   increased requirements for risk management. Both legislation and private sector policies require companies to understand and manage supply chain risks. Unfortunately, the strategy of avoiding risks can negatively impact the demand for tropical timber.  In our view a better strategy is to engage with supply chain partners to create incentives and market pull for supply chains that are transparent and have robust evidence of legal and responsible forest management, for example, by sourcing certified timber. This is also why we have engaged actively in initiatives such as the Risk Information Alliance to provide robust and transparent risk assessments, which can guide supply chain actors across sectors on how to address risks and provide proper assurance of compliance, rather than terminating sourcing.

With new EU legislation, such as EUDR, coming into force, it is becoming increasingly important that we find solutions for tropical timber and especially smallholders. Preferred by Nature has further developed our LegalSource certification program to align fully with EUDR and changed the name to Preferred by Nature certification. We offer this certification to forest management units and downstream processors and traders who want to provide assurance of their EUDR aligned due diligence systems, either as a stand-alone certification or as an add-on to FSC forest management certification.

The increased demand for assurance and documentation is particularly challenging for smallholders. As part of our smallholder programme, we are engaged in projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to build capacity for small and medium sized enterprises focusing on legal compliance and helping smallholders achieve certification. We also work with trade associations and their SME members to develop and implement due diligence systems aligned with EUDR.

STTC/F&P: Do you believe the tropical timber sector can rebuild its presence in Europe?

MJ:  Growing demand for timber and wood fiber generally in the green economy could potentially lead to an increase in demand for tropical timber products. ­­­­­­However, in a market with increasing focus on other ecosystems services, such as biodiversity, carbon sequestration and the interests of local communities it will likely be required to provide not just assurance, but also measurable data about the impact forest management has on these services. So, supply chains of tropical and non-tropical timber products must be transparent and have robust assurance and verified data about origin and what their ecosystem services impacts will be.

STTC/F&P: Greater use of verified sustainable lesser-known tropical species is seen as making more sustainable use of the tropical forest. How do you see the importance of this and in your activities are you seeing suppliers looking to exploit these species more?

MJ: We’ve promoted cases where our clients use lesser-known tropical timber species in articles on certification and we do separate posts to raise awareness of consumers of this type of timber on Instagram.

STTC/F&P: How do you see Preferred by Nature’s work in the sustainable tropical timber sector developing in the future?  

MJ: Within our field of work, due diligence, risk assessment, risk mitigation and certification we are already seeing development and uptake of technological solutions that can help primary producers and downstream supply chains to share robust data, and help assurance systems to become most cost-effective, so focusing efforts and costs where it provides most value.

STTC/F&P: What do you think the timber trade’s sales pitch for sustainable tropical timber should be – and are you optimistic for the future sustainable tropical timber sector?

MJ: SFM has the potential to protect forests, provide livelihoods for local communities, secure indigenous peoples’ rights, and preserve high conservation values (HCVs) and areas of high carbon stock (HCS). We are also convinced that both protection and management of natural tropical forests, including sustainable timber production, will play a key role in local and global efforts to preserve biodiversity, fight poverty and support transition to a green economy. However, SFM, and protection of forest ecosystems is not a private sector obligation alone. There is also a need for strong laws and law enforcement in producer countries to achieve these goals. And we are hopeful that regulation and market mechanisms will better take into account the wide variety of values that tropical forest ecosystems provide to local and global communities and recognize that sustainable timber production is an important part of the solution to preserve forest ecosystems. We are also engaged in initiatives that can support this trend, including ecosystem restoration, carbon verification and FSC Ecosystems Services certification.


Lesser known timber species – Pucté/Jucaro


Photo: Municipality of Rotterdam 

Lesser known timber species (LKTS) are globally underutilized species of timber. LKTS are emerging more than ever as a major challenge but also an opportunity for the timber industry.  Using certified sustainable LKTS helps take the supply stress off more widely used timber species and makes certification more economically viable. They enable the sector to diversify its timber and wood products offer and at the same time help it meet sustainability imperative-driven market regulatory requirements.   

In this edition we introduce the LKTS Pucté / Jucaro (Terminalia buceras). The tree is found from Mexico to the north of the South American continent and in the Caribbean. It can grow to 30m tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 1.15m. The heartwood ranges from a pale reddish brown to dark brown, often with an olive hue. Depending on the darkness of the heartwood, the pale yellowish-brown sapwood may or may not be clearly demarcated. The grain is fine to medium texture, with flat sawn surfaces commonly having a slightly wavy appearance. Color and grain become more pronounced when finish is applied, and the timber is likened in looks to Ipe and Cumaru. The above picture shows the application of Pucté as a boardwalk in Rotterdam, as part of the Cities4forests project.

The wood is susceptible to marine borers, but otherwise very durable and termite-resistant. It can be challenging to machine and glue due to its density, oil content, and irregular grain, but it has a wide range of applications. It is used for decking, flooring, exterior furniture, posts, piles, and other heavy construction products.

Pucté is not CITES appendix-listed or included on the IUCN Red List and, other than the usual cautions related to wood dust, no health hazards have been identified in working with the species.

Technical details

  • Average Dried Weight: 990 kg/m3 (61.9 lbs/ft3)
  • Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .85, .99
  • Janka Hardness: 13,080 N (2,940 lbf)
  • Modulus of Rupture: 146.6 MPa (21,260 lbf/in2)
  • Elastic Modulus: 16.42 GPa (2,381,000 lbf/in2)
  • Crushing Strength: 74.3 MPa (10,770 lbf/in2)
  • Shrinkage: Radial: 4.2%, Tangential: 9.2%

 Source: https://www.wood-database.com/jucaro/

Congo Basin forest on track for 10m ha certified


Photo: CIFOR

A ‘second wave’ of certification in the Congo Basin is expected to boost the area of certified sustainable forest in the region to 10 million ha by 2025. FSC accreditation of Gabon Advanced Wood and PAFC validation of fellow Gabonese operation Bois et Sciages de l’Ogooué in 2022 added 474,690 ha to the certified area, taking the total to 5,866,756 ha. According to the Central Africa Forest Observatory (OFAC), this represents 12% of the Congo Basin’s exploitable forests.

The certified total is currently spread across three countries, the Republic of the Congo (RoC) (2,989,168 ha), Gabon (2,535,880 ha), and Cameroon (341,708 ha). In addition, Alpicam-Grumcam has achieved FSC certification of four management units (FMUs) this year in the districts of Kadey, Boumba, and Ngoko in eastern Cameroon covering 353,388 ha. This development reinforces the ATIBT in its conviction that the 10 million hectares certified milestone will be reached in 12 years. Its Certification Commission has assessed the area, analysed forest certification data, and looked at incentives for getting certified across the Congo Basin. It concludes that a further 4.2 million ha of forest, managed by 13 companies, will be certified by 2025, a 73% increase on today’s total. More than half of it will be in Gabon, where prospective new rules are set to oblige forest concession managers to gain certification. The remainder will be divided between Cameroon and the RoC.

The ATIBT identifies several certification drivers in the region. These include the broad support for certification from the Programme for the Promotion of Certified Forest Operations (PPECF), notably through its ‘coaching’ programme, which includes financing of private operator’s ‘upgrading action plans’. It also cites the PEFC’s endorsement of the PAFC Congo Basin scheme, which supports and encourages certification across Cameroon, Gabon, and the RoC and is the first regional PEFC scheme. “The implementation of the European Union’s new zero deforestation regulation (EUDR), expected early 2025, will also have an impact on this dynamic, as certification is considered [under the new rules] as a tool to assess and reduce risk of illegality and implication in deforestation and forest degradation”, said the ATIBT. It also sees political and regulatory factors pushing certification. Gabon has led the way by setting a target for all forest management businesses to be certified by 2025. The result of this is unsure, among others due to the coup d’état in Gabon last summer. Meanwhile, in the RoC a new Forestry Law awaiting implementing legislation stipulates that “Forestry companies shall certify the management of forest concessions”.

“Although considered a purely private initiative, there is growing interest in the use of forest certification as a public policy tool by providing incentives for its adoption or making it mandatory” concluded the ATIBT. “Forest certification is now recognized as a means of combating deforestation and forest degradation by ensuring timber is legally harvested.” To further accelerate certification uptake, the market must be persuaded to pay a premium for certified timber so producers are ‘compensated for the direct and indirect costs of certification’. The value of certification should also be formally recognised and acknowledged in the EUDR.



Cameroon reforestation project shares experiences


Photo: CIFOR

ATIBT is the implementing partner of a major EU-funded initiative to support reforestation and further improve forest management practices in Cameroon. The project, Reforestation in the Forest Management Units of Cameroon (UFA-Reforest) was launched last year and runs until 2026. Its aim is to “contribute to the sustainable management of Cameroon’s timber production forests by mobilising private and public stakeholders around reforestation and future forest management strategies”.

Four ATIBT forestry management member businesses are taking part, Pallisco, Grumcam-Alpicam, Sefac, and Seef. The objective, over the course of the programme, is to plant 240,000 trees at a rate of 60,000 per year. The first round of reforestation projects focused on 17 ha of degraded areas, the second, now underway, is stepping up to 27 ha. Each of the forest management businesses has a nursery to supply reforestation activities stocked with 125,000 seedlings. These are planted out when they reach 40 cm high.

UFA-Reforest forms part of a wider strategy, the Programme for Improving Governance in Forestry in Cameroon (PAMFOR). Technical support is being provided by the Gembloux Agro-Biotech faculty at the University of Liège and Belgian-based NGO Nature+, which supports community-based and participatory approaches to natural resource management, providing technical assistance and training to forestry businesses and community forestry projects. The Higher School of Technical Education (ENSET) at the University of Douala is also involved.

Early in 2023, the project was visited by an EU delegation to evaluate its progress to date and discuss issues with forest concession managers, conservation services, and local communities. The trip took in Pallisco’s nurseries and forest operations and also a visit to the forest and timber operations in eastern Cameroon of Dino & Fils, which is looking for support from UFA-Reforest. The EU representatives expressed satisfaction with the work of the project and complimented the quality of forest concession infrastructure.

A delegation from the Cameroon National Assembly, including the Trade Ministry, also visited Pallisco to gain an understanding of the realities of the forestry sector and to listen to the concerns of local people. Other forestry businesses have also been invited to see UFA-Reforest activities and learn about the project. Together with representatives of the Ministry of Forests and Fauna, 18 managers from eight forestry companies spent a week at the Pallisco Mindourou site to look at operations in the field and discuss reforestation issues. Topics raised on the visit to the Mindourou nursery, included seed supply, tree species diversification, and production of non-timber forest products. Challenges in plantation plot preparation also came up in talks. It was recommended that further such visits to UFA-Reforest operations should be organised.

Click here to see a video about UFA-Reforest.

The tropical timber sector can manage the EUDR challenge


Tropical timber suppliers to Europe express confidence that they can rise to the challenges of the incoming EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). However, there is concern that there is insufficient detail on implementation and how companies will be expected to provide data to demonstrate compliance. The EUDR comes into effect for larger businesses at the end of 2024 and six months later for affected SMEs.

It demands that suppliers that first place six so-called Forest and Ecosystem Risk Commodities (FERCs) on the EU market, including timber and wood products, undertake due diligence to demonstrate goods are not linked to deforestation or forest degradation. There is a requirement for geolocation coordinates to show exactly from which plot of land they originated and also for information on the time of harvest.

The EUDR changes the status of EU FLEGT-licensed goods. Under the previous EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which the EUDR supersedes, a FLEGT license exempted products from further due diligence on entering the EU. Under the EUDR, a FLEGT license will be accepted as proof of legality, but suppliers must still undertake additional due diligence to prove goods are not implicated in deforestation.

The new regulation also involves benchmarking supplier countries according to the risk of deforestation (high, medium, low). Levels of due diligence required on goods will vary accordingly. In an interview with the UK Timber Trades Journal, Geneviève Standaert, export manager of the Belgian-based international timber trader, raised the issue of the lack of implementation information.

“The text of the law is ready, but the practical guidelines won’t be until December 2024 when the new legislation will be enforced,” said Ms Standaert. “So we will have to wait and see what is required in day-to-day business in terms of such areas as customs clearing and training and where to upload data and in what form, including how we submit geolocation information.” She added that the ‘plots of land’ for which the EUDR demands geolocation coordinates will vary widely. A ‘plot’ is defined as ‘land within a single real estate property’. It could be a few hectares or tens of thousands. To stay informed, Vandecasteele is signing up for numerous presentations on the subject and is keeping suppliers informed.

Vandecasteele believes the timber sector’s EUTR experience, resulting in closer relationships between buyers and suppliers, leaves it well-placed to deal with EUDR. “Under the EUTR, we’ve been working for 10 years with suppliers as partners, so this gives us a real head start in comparison with the other commodities covered by the EUDR,” said Ms Standaert.

Precious Woods also believes its experience collating geolocation data to prove legality under the EUTR stands it in good stead with the EUDR. But it also highlights a lack of information on how the latter will be administered. “Our main concern is the EUDR IT system which is still in development,” said co-chief executive officer Markus Pfannkuch. “If the system and process are too complicated, we’ll need to recruit more staff.” In addition, some issues are foreseen with regards to harvest information. “We can’t attribute a piece of lumber that arrives in a bundle to a specific tree,” said Mr Pfannkuch. “However, we know when trees were harvested and can relate the lumber inside the bundle to the specific harvesting periods.”

Interholco is confident it ‘can meet all requirements’ of the EUDR, including geolocation details for timber origin, given that most of its timber comes from its own concession in the Republic of the Congo. “Some details of implementation are still unknown, such as how the European portal for downloading EUDR information will operate and whether we can give plot information annually, or have to provide it on each invoice,” said Vice President of Production and Sales Christophe Janssen. “But we don’t foresee problems.”

There is also a view that new tools and initiatives will aid the implementation and monitoring of and compliance with the EUDR. These include the Forest Data Partnership, a project involving the World Resources Institute, UNFAO, Google, NASA, the US Government, and Unilever. This is developing a ‘consistent geospatial data ecosystem’ to enable companies, governments, NGOs, researchers, and civil society to access open-source, validated data that can be used for the monitoring, verification, and disclosure of progress in reducing deforestation and advancing restoration.


Community forest enterprise of Maya forest


Photo: Mark van Benthem

FORESCOM is supplying FSC-certified community-sourced lesser known timber species (LKTS) as part of its effort to harness the international market for supporting the maintenance of forests in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR). The MBR, covering over 2 million ha of forest, is described by the FSC as the ‘largest continuous protected area in Central America’; a ‘last stronghold against deforestation and biodiversity loss’.

FORESCOM is a community enterprise, formed in 2003 by nine smaller community enterprises to effectively manage concessions in the MBR. FORESCOM now comprises eleven such bodies. FSC and ‘Madera Justa’(Fair Wood) certified, they manage a total area of 350,000 ha of forest. Backers of the operation include the FSC itself, USAID, the Rainforest Alliance, and COPADE. A community enterprise at such a large scale is rather unique in the tropical timber domain.

According to the FSC, an average of around 1.5 trees is extracted per hectare every year in concession areas where there are between 200 and 300 timber trees. The targeted areas have cutting cycles of 30 to 40 years. Sustainable felling is also restricted to about 45% of the land, with the rest set aside for conservation or harvesting non-timber forest products, such as xate palm leaves, copal amber, honey, and allspice.

Around 15,000 people live around the concession areas, many working in the forests. Their sale of sustainable forest products supports community educational and health facilities as well as individual livelihoods. The FSC says child malnutrition is lower in these areas than in the surrounding region, school attendance is higher and there is less migration to cities.
“Also highest reported values of [flora and fauna] species that are spotted within the FSC-certified area,” FSC says, adding that these include jaguars, with up to 11.28 individuals per 100 km². According to Glyde Márquez Morales, sales manager at FORESCOM, FSC certification guarantees proper forest management and underpins forest product value, increasing prices for both timber and non-timber product prices in leading international markets, such as the United States and Europe.

Earlier this year, the STTC/F&P newsletter reported that the Rainforest Alliance organised an international trade mission to the Maya forest in Guatemala and Mexico, with participants including ATIBT, Probos, and Precious Woods. They initially held ‘intense and constructive’ talks in Tulum, Mexico with representatives of community forest operations, before spending several days visiting the forest in both countries. Recommendations to come out of the mission were for the establishment of a regional forest and timber association and a marketing strategy around the Wood of Selva Maya brand.

To contact FORESCOM tel: +502 7823-1097, email ventas@FORESCOM.com.gt

Fair&Precious Partners In the Spotlight


In the latest of our interviews with Fair&Precious Partners about their companies and organisations and their views on the campaign and tropical timber’s prospects, we talk to Isabelle Brose, Managing Director of the European Federation of the Parquet Industry, the FEP

STTC/F&P Newsletter: How would you describe the FEP, who you are, and what you stand for?
Isabelle Brose: The FEP was created in 1956, and is the main body representing and defending the interests of the European parquet industry at all levels. Its role is:

  • To strengthen and improve the position of wood flooring
  • To enhance the growth, prosperity, and stature of European parquet manufacturers.

The key areas of focus for FEP are raw material supply, production, market, and internal affairs. The Federation has 82 members in more than 20 countries; 53 manufacturers, eight national federations, and 23 suppliers. The EU parquet industry has an annual turnover of about €2.5 billion, provides 16,000 direct jobs, and comprises more than 1,000 enterprises. European FEP country parquet production was estimated at 78 million m2 in 2022.

STTC/F&P: Why did FEP decide to become a Fair&Precious partner?
IB: We joined ATIBT for the following reasons and were presented with the possibility of also supporting Fair&Precious. Besides the recurrent issue of availability and affordability of wood raw material, especially oak, the situation of birch plywood supply became acute with the EU measures taken against Russia related to the situation in Ukraine. The ban on imports of wood and wood products from Russia and Belarus pushed some of our members into diversifying supplies including, with the addition of under-appreciated domestic and tropical species. Regarding tropical species, we wanted to avoid potential risks regarding legality and sustainability and to present a strong message and guarantees to our stakeholders and consumers regarding these issues.

STTC/F&P: The tropical timber sector has struggled to hold on to its European market share in recent years. What does FEP see as its key challenges in the flooring industry?
IB: Image is so important. We’re in the era of social media immediacy, a reputation can be ruined from one day to the other. Wood flooring manufacturers want to avoid potential risks regarding legality and sustainability, knowing they won’t have time to prove themselves right if attacked by the press or NGOs.

In a way, the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and now the EU Deforestation-free Value Chains Regulation (EUDR) are also perpetuating the idea that importing wood from far away is ‘wrong’. Some time ago having ‘fair trade’ was a positive, as long as populations in Africa, Asia, or South America were supported. But today the focus of end-consumers is also on ‘local’ products, although European wood could have originated from Siberia not so long ago. Our recent FEP Marketing Study throughout Europe is underlining this, the origin of natural wood flooring solutions has become a more important issue for many consumers.

Overall, all validated legality and sustainability claims resonate quite well with European consumers. However, the labels claim with the most impact is still ‘made in the local country’;  consumers indicate that this would have the greatest influence on their purchase decision.

STTC/F&P: Does FEP see opportunities in the flooring market for tropical timber to recover lost ground?
IB: Everybody wants wood flooring. In our recent marketing study, we found that;

  • European consumer perceptions of natural wood are very positive, with 50% viewing it as important to have a wooden floor at home
  • Natural wood flooring is seen as stylish and authentic, adding warmth and character
  • And as the use of wood, as a non-fossil renewable resource, is set to increase further, supported by the principles of the EU Green Deal, we can expect to see parquet progressing, including sustainably sourced tropical products.

The necessary diversification of supplies could also help increase the share of tropical wood in parquet production, but good communication – storytelling – will be necessary to circumvent the current appeal of ‘local’ products.

STTC/F&P: Where does FEP see the greatest possibilities for tropical timber use?
IB: Probably in high-end markets and for products requiring higher water resistance.

STTC/F&P: What sort of environmental validation do your member companies require of timber?
IB: Existing certification schemes such as PEFC and FSC are important and meeting the requirements of EUTR and EUDR are mandatory. In addition, and to address the debate over ‘local’ vs imported products, conclusive Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), including the carbon footprint of transport, would be useful. It’s worth noting that reporting obligations for EU operators and manufacturers on sustainability are increasing.

STTC/F&P:  Besides sustainable and legal harvesting, what values are FEP members looking for in certified tropical forestry?
IB: We trust that sustainable forest management supports local populations and their development, hoping this can lead them to preserve the forest.

STTC/F&P: What is your view of the timber sector argument that using a wider selection of tropical species, including sustainably produced lesser-known varieties, is an environmental positive?
IB: Using a wider range of tropical species makes sense. But all factors need to be taken into account. That includes technical specifications for parquet, in terms of the production process and end product, as well as existing demand or lack of it for such species. We cannot forget that in Europe our sector is still dependent mainly on oak for technical and commercial reasons.

STTC/F&P: What do you see as the key value of Fair&Precious?
IB: The  ‘10 Commitments’ on social, economic, and environmental sustainability and the guarantee provided by Fair&Precious that forest managers who carry the brand are certified in sustainable management. Also important is the support it can provide in the case of accusations and consumer questions.

STTC/F&P: What do you think should be the key sales pitch for tropical timber to the flooring industry?
IB: The world is bigger than oak! 😉

STTC/F&P: Longer term, is FEP optimistic about the use of tropical timber in flooring?
IB: Cautiously optimistic, provided good stories on sustainable forest management and conclusive EPDs support the image of tropical wood. The need to reopen international trade in various directions, to be less dependent on a few countries only, should also prompt a re-consideration of tropical species.