In his letter, Gordon Gresham is right to point out the practical difficulties of discriminating legal from illegal timber once it arrives at our shores. But the fact is the European Council of Ministers is likely to approve legislation that does just that!

This export licensing scheme will require credible tracking and auditing that excludes illegal timber at the point of export to the EU. To help suppliers meet this requirement the Timber Trade Federation instigated a consortium of EU trade bodies that won a e3.5m grant from the European Commission to establish tracking systems in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cameroon, Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville. This is being implemented on our behalf by the Tropical Forest Trust, and means our members can access financial and technical assistance to help suppliers establish chain of custody. Building on this work we are submitting a second proposal to the EC covering Latin American suppliers.

The trade has a responsibility to discriminate good suppliers from bad. The TTF’s Responsible Purchasing Policy is one objective assessment tool [for achieving this]. If we don’t start eliminating bad suppliers how can industry claim that timber is the sustainable building material of choice?

Andy Roby

Corporate social responsibility adviser

Timber Trade Federation