But every now and then a straightforward idea does strike you as the best way through the muddle and confusion. The sort that makes you wonder why no-one thought of it before. Such an idea, or at least the seeds of one, may well have come out of a meeting at The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) last week.

The aim of the event was to give TTF members a chance to catch up with latest developments at the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET). The latter, as we’ve reported in TTJ, has assessed the various environmental certification schemes against government criteria on what constitutes proof of timber’s legality and sustainability. Currently the FSC, CSA, PEFC and SFI schemes have been approved as proof of both, with the MTCC scheme given proof of legality status.

As the situation stands this still leaves distributors, merchants and other timber suppliers having to explain the merits of various certification schemes to customers, end-users and specifiers. It also risks the market favouring one scheme over the others to make life easier.

The idea put forward at the TTF meeting to ProForest, the organisation that administers CPET, was that the term “CPET-approved” should be allowed to be used in conjunction with the various certification scheme logos.

It’s a proposal that probably needs some fine-tuning – and probably won’t please all the parties in the whole certification debate. But at first glance it does look like it could simplify the situation. The end-user and specifier would not have to do their own analysis of the ins and outs of the certification schemes, unless they really wanted. Instead, they could just check that the scheme logo was accompanied by the CPET-approved stamp. At the same time, this solution could satisfy different communities, forestry and timber businesses around the world and their desire to operate different certification schemes suited to their way of life, environment and industry structure.