DEFRA outlines role of timber advisory body

The Environment Department has announced details of its long-awaited "central point of expertise" to provide guidance to Departments on timber procurement. Its formation was recommended in a Government-commissioned report in August 2002, but delayed because of DEFRA's lack of resources (ENDS Report 342, p 39 ).

The body will assess whether existing forest certification schemes meet the Government's requirements. DEFRA warned that its advice could be "controversial" and prompt "representations from disaffected parties" such as certification schemes.

The centre will also review the definitions of "legal" and "sustainable" timber and how standards could be set to encourage timber producers towards certification. It will also set targets and reporting requirements.

Work will start early in 2004. The centre will be accountable to a management board of stakeholder representatives. The board will consider extending the scope of the centre's activities when its initial work is completed.

Meanwhile, the Timber Trade Federation is developing a new sustainable timber procurement policy, matching the Government requirements, for adoption by its members.

  • Travis Perkins, the UK's largest builder's merchants, has joined WWF's 95+ Group, whose members are committed to sourcing increasing amounts of timber from certified sustainable forests, such as those under the Forest Stewardship Council's scheme. Earlier this year, Travis Perkins was named and shamed by Greenpeace for importing plywood from illegal sources in Indonesia (ENDS Report 341, p 35 ).

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