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FAO launches live guide to timber legality

Jul 23, 2021 | FLEGT Policy News, News

With increasing international focus on combatting illegal logging and more consumer countries and regions introducing timber market legality requirements, the UNFAO has launched an online portal for forest-related legislation.

The TimberLex database has been created to give timber buyers and suppliers, government agencies, policy makers, civil society organisations and NGOs latest information on legislation around the world relating to forest management, timber production and trade.

It will be constantly updated and covers more than 50 timber consumer, processing and producer countries.

The information is organised on a common format consisting of a set of  Guiding Legal Elements (GLEs), which were developed by FAO through international consultation and based on international best practice.

“The GLEs encompass critical stages of the timber value chain and are agreed common elements for creating frameworks for legality,” said the FAO, adding that TimberLex is an offshoot of FAOLEX, the largest collection of national laws and regulation on food, agriculture and renewable resources.

TimberLex is intended to back international efforts to counter illegal logging and illegal timber trade, which, says FAO, undermine sustainable forest management and impair poverty alleviation, food security and climate change mitigation strategies.

It is also designed to support business in legality due diligence at a time when provision of legality assurance is becoming an increasingly critical factor in the global timber trade. In fact, in a recent webinar hosted by the FLEGT Independent Market Monitor, trade analyst Rupert Oliver said that 60% and rising of global timber import trade is now covered by some form of market legality requirement, such as the US Lacey Act and EU Timber Regulation.

“As more timber producing and consuming countries enact requirements related to legal production and trade of timber, making information on national legislation related to forest management, production and associated trade easily available will facilitate legality verification and due diligence efforts worldwide,” said the FAO. It added that to help users navigate legal texts, the website points them to key specific measures within laws.

TimberLex is also intended to support timber producing countries in strengthening and enforcing their legal frameworks and allows easy and direct comparison between them.

Country profile pages include thematic sections looking at aspects such as land tenure and forest management, timber harvesting, processing, transport and trade and taxes and fees. It also has a compare function, based on country name and GLEs, to help users to weigh up different legality frameworks.

In summary, FAO says TimberLex will help:

  • Clarify legal frameworks for sustainable forest management, production and trade
  • Improve forest governance
  • Curb illegal deforestation and forest degradation
  • Promote global production and trade in legal timber.

The TimberLex launch webinar workshop can be viewed here.