I was very pleased to hear about the announcement from under secretary of state for the environment, Dr Thérèse Coffey that the EUTR and EU FLEGT regulation will be retained in UK law after Brexit. The reassurance is most welcome, given other uncertainties surrounding Brexit negotiations and the UK distancing itself from other EU laws, trades and customs.

When the EUTR was introduced in 2013, companies had different starting points for due diligence compliance, different levels of understanding of the regulation and different dedicated resources and commitments to stop procurement of illicit timber from high risk countries. Those differences still exist within UK trade and across the EU, but it is vital we all ultimately meet at the same point and I am so pleased the UK government didn’t take a step back on this critical matter for the timber trade but embraced it.

I’ve seen governmental support on EUTR compliance from an early stage. It’s possibly one of the better implemented regulations I’m responsible for within our business.

The UK EUTR Competent Authority engaged with the trade and approached compliance first via education and guidance. It also leads the way in engagement on an EU level to make sure the EUTR is implemented evenly across the EU so the regulation works, does not create competitive advantage and compliance guidance is compatible in all countries. Detailed input from the UK Competent Authority and trade has driven EU-wide conformity and we should be proud of this.

Legality and understanding the supply chain line is basic to ethical trading. Efforts to tackle illegality on a pan-European level can only make it stronger. Many tools have been developed by the UK Timber Trade Federation, the European Timber Trade Federation, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) and NEPCon to support compliance, enhance due diligence, identify risk and help implement adequate mitigation. The trade has also invested significant resources in the EUTR process.

Retaining EUTR and FLEGT regulations in UK law will strengthen commitments to responsible and sustainable timber trade. It will help support government procurement policy, the WWF 2020 Campaign, the EU Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition and other trade sustainability targets. It will also help the trade stay engaged in productive international debate about the future of our sector.

James Latham actively promotes sustainable timber, so architects, specifiers and end users understand not only the complexities of timber products’ technical performance and variety of end uses, but also focus on aspects of timber origin and its positive impact on local communities. Raising awareness of these topics is important and we are all mindful of the positive influence that the EU FLEGT VPA process has in this field, improving forest governance, transparency and stakeholder engagement to achieve positive outcomes for all concerned.

It’s great that the EUTR will continue to be used to improve our supply chain transparency and help promote ethical trading and that we will remain engaged with the EU FLEGT initiative, which is driving delivery of legally assured timber. Good news!