"The industry has come a fair distance and is without doubt a far cry from where it was a few years ago in combating illegal timber.

I think we should be proud of the journey we have taken so far, in terms of moving towards a better and more legality assured and sustainable industry throughout the product portfolio.

We could however all be doing more in certain importing sectors to ensure that we build on this effectively and efficiently.

International Timber had a responsible procurement policy in place for several years before EUTR came in to force. In fact we were signatories of the original TTF Responsible Purchasing Policy.

As part of Saint-Gobain, our organisation already had a very stringent policy in respect of procuring timber products, so we were well placed to take on board the changes when they were introduced.

Since then we’ve pushed hard to almost over-conform, but unfortunately there are many others willing to do just the bare minimum to comply.

Legislation is a reason to observe our obligations on legality and sustainability, but there has to also be a want.

The choice to comply should not just be down to a purely commercial decision from businesses, but a want to be part of a sustainable industry.

Proving something is legal is the first step to timber sustainability and it makes good business sense to source sustainable products, so that timber is available to companies longer-term.

Ensuring wood is from certified, sustainably managed forests can also help to tackle the global problem of deforestation.

I have seen a lot of changes in the industry over the past 36 years and from my experience know that education will be the key, moving forward.

The new generation of consumers and indeed manufacturers, will be much better educated on sustainability.

It will be at the forefront of what they require, pushing us down a tighter route to ensure we comply. Overall our experience of EUTR has been positive and I believe it can only be a good thing for the industry. There’s still an education process required to ensure that the regulations are fully enforceable.

But I see it having an increasingly positive impact as time goes on and knowledge of EUTR and its implications grows.

I would also urge the industry to keep faith with the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement initiative (FLEGT VPA). This process is intended to work together with the EUTR.

We’ve had a long wait for the arrival of the first FLEGT licensed timber, but that should happen this year, and we should get behind it when it does.

Not only will it be exempt further due diligence under the EUTR, it will be the result of a huge amount of effort by the supplier country to implement sound legality assurance systems across their industry.

It will be another tool for our business to combat the illegal timber trade and also ultimately ensure sustainability.