The Role of Forest Certifcation
While there is no automatic “green light” for certified products as the European Commission cannot formally endorse non-regulatory instruments, the EUTR however recognizes the added value of certification as a potential tool for risk assessment and mitigation:
“In order to recognize good practice in the forestry sector, certification or other third party verified schemes that include verification of compliance with applicable legislation may be used in the risk assessment procedure." (see REGULATION (EU) No 995/2010 Recital (19))
The European Commission advises that, when assessing the risk of a product, companies should take into account, amongst other things, whether a product is certified by certification systems such as PEFC. In practice, the Commission explains, companies “may rate credibly certified products as having negligible risk of being illegal, i.e. suitable for placing on the market with no further risk mitigation measures, provided that the rest of the information gathered and the replies to the risk assessment questions do not contradict such a conclusion” (see "What will be the role of certification & legality verification?").
The EUTR Guidance document contains four questions that companies may use to assess the credibility of a third-party certification system such as PEFC.
1) Are all the requirements in Article 4 of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 607/2012 fulfilled?
Yes. PEFC fulfils the EUTR requirements for third-party certification systems:
- PEFC's system of requirements is publicly available and requires compliance with all relevant requirements of the applicable legislation.
- PEFC requires certification bodies to undertake annual checks, including field visits, to verify compliance with certification requirements, including the applicable legislation.
- PEFC's Chain of Custody certification, which is verified by certification bodies, traces timber and forest products through the entire supply chain. All timber must be harvested in accordance with applicable legislation, originating either from sustainably managed, PEFC-certified forests or from forest management activities that are considered as non-controversial and in compliance with applicable legislation.
- PEFC's Due Diligence System, which is an integral part of Chain of Custody certification, provides controls to ensure that the risk of timber from controversial sources (including illegal harvesting) entering the supply chain is minimized.
2) Is the certification or other third party verified schemes compliant with international or European standards (e.g. the relevant ISO-guides, ISEAL Codes)?
Yes. PEFC certification is compliant with the relevant ISO guides. Among others, PEFC requires certification bodies, auditors, and the process of certification and accreditation to comply with the respective ISO Standards and Guides. Furthermore, PEFC is officially affiliated with ISO, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the European co-operation for Accreditation
3) Are there substantiated reports about possible shortcomings or problems of the third party verified schemes in the specific countries from which the timber or timber products are imported?
The 2013 PEFC Chain of Custody standard specifically considers the availability of substantiated comments or complaints as part of the PEFC Due Diligence System. Furthermore, this question needs to be answered in relation to the countries from which the timber or timber products are imported, specifically in relation to the country of harvest. In the event that further assistance is required, national PEFC members or PEFC International will be able to provide the necessary clarification.
4) Are the third parties that are making the checks and verifications referred to in Article 4 (b), (c) and (d) of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 607/2012 independent accredited organisations?
Yes. In line with the applicable ISO requirements, PEFC certification is verified by third-party certification bodies that are accredited by independent national accreditation bodies. Accreditation bodies must be members of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
Contact a PEFC-notified certifier in your country for further information about PEFC certification.