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Focus on certified timber may expedite substitution of tropical timber in Europe

May 18, 2021 | Surveys & Project News

Results from the IMM 2018-2020 EU27+UK surveys show that private certification schemes, especially FSC, have profited from the introduction of EUTR. Survey respondents explained that they preferred buying certified timber since the EUTR came into force and are using certification as a means of compliance with EUTR due diligence requirements.

However, capacity and cost constraints for certified tropical timber, as reported in previous IMM Annual Reports, persisted also in 2020, against the background of little further progress in forest certification in tropical countries. As a result, the stronger focus on certified products, both to support EUTR compliance and to achieve goals set by procurement policies, has, according to a number of IMM survey respondents, further intensified substitution of tropical timber products with alternatives made of temperate wood, which are much more readily available with FSC or PEFC certification.

Only a very small number of survey respondents reported decline in the share of certified timber in total purchases due to EUTR. 

Figure 1: EUTR impact on certification and legality verification schemes

When asked whether the market introduction of FLEGT-licensed timber from Indonesia had had any impact on their purchases of certified timber, a large majority of companies answered “no change” in all three years. A smaller number or respondents – between 1 and 5% depending on the year and certification scheme – reported decreases (figure 2).

In 2020, there was a significant change with several respondents from the Netherlands and the UK, in particular, reporting increases in the proportion of certified timber due to FLEGT-licensing. These companies said that they had started buying from Indonesia as FLEGT-licensing had increased their trust in the country’s environmental performance. However, due to company policy they still only buy certified products, so certification benefitted indirectly from FLEGT-licensing in Indonesia.

Figure 2: FLEGT impact on certification and legality verification schemes