Wood verifiers fail to impress

Few systems developed to assess the legality of timber products are credible, a review by Greenpeace has concluded.

The NGO assessed seven legal verification systems - Smartwood, Tropical Forest Trust, SHS TLTV (Central Africa), Certisource, Tropical Forest Foundation, SGS Russia and Global Forestry Services - against six criteria that Greenpeace says "provide the essential minimum requirements to ensure credibility". This includes transparency, multi-stakeholder input, auditing, chain of custody protocols and commitment to achieve Forest Stewardship certification.

Just Smartwood met all the criteria set by the NGO. It was followed by TFT, which was said to be "doing well". Greenpeace said that it would only accept these systems as providing credible legality verification at present. The remainder was described as being "mediocre" or "inadequate". Global Forestry Services was described as "unacceptable" (see table).

Greenpeace said a "gross lack of transparency" meant there was no way to assess the credibility of the European Timber Trade Action Plan, produced by the European Timber Trade Federation to stop imports of illegally logged timber. It "condemned" the European Commission for backing the scheme with tax payers’ money.

Greenpeace is now calling for an independent body to be formed to accredit schemes against a credible standard and monitor performance to ensure schemes are competent and independent.

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