Since 3 March 2013, the European Union banned the trade in illegally harvested timber and wood products: the Regulation (EU) no 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 «On the obligations of operators who place timber and wood products on the market» (EUTR) was put into effect. The document applies not only to the companies who supply timber and wood products to the EU market, but also to their suppliers in countries where timber is harvested, including Russia.
The regulation obliges «operators» to implement a «due diligence system» that meets the requirements of the document. After delivery of wood products to the European Union market, the «traders» must maintain and keep records of transactions with their suppliers and customers.
Under the new legislation, companies should be aware of the origin of the wood used in their supply chain of sawn timber, and relevant products and to ensure the supply of legal timber. In many cases, it is a daunting task for both large and small enterprises.
What are the EUTR requirements with respect to timber supplies to the EU market?
The EUTR requires providing the possibility of determining the region of harvesting (down to specific sites) and timber species. The requirements for the information and the procedure of its provision are contained in the due diligence system (see below) of a particular European company («operator»), which will place its products in the EU market.
What is ‘due diligence system’?
Due diligence system is a system that must be implemented by operators to minimize the risk of placing timber from illegally harvested timber in the EU market. The detailed rules of the system, determining the frequency and nature of inspections, are contained in a special document of the European Union «EUTR Implementing Regulation» No. 607/2012 dated 6 July 2012, as well as in the «Guide to the European Union Timber Regulations and timber bylaws».
Which products are subject to the EUTR?
- Products from solid wood, flooring, plywood, pulp and paper.
- Products imported into the European Union from abroad, and the products produced in the European Union.
- Products made of/from bamboo, with some exceptions, depending on the customs rules.
The recycled products and printed materials, such as books, magazines and newspapers are not covered by the EUTR. This list may change at the decision of the European Union.
What liability is established for violation of the EUTR requirements?
Punishments and penalties for violation of the EUTR are established by the authorities of each EU member country, but some countries have not done that yet.
- penalties proportional to the inflicted environmental damage, value of timber and products made of/from illegally harvested wood, as well as economic damage, including the
- arrest of timber and wood products;
- immediate suspension of permission to trade.
Can the certification be considered as proof of legality?
Certification is not considered as proof of legality of timber, although the EUTR states that this or other schemes of proving compliance with the legislation providing for independent (
Confirmation of the legality that does not require the introduction of the due diligence system are only FLEGT licenses (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade), obtained in the framework of voluntary partnership agreements between the European Union and a member of the program, and permits under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
Further information: EU website