In an environmental certification first for China, plywood producer Suzhou Kai Wah Wooden Co (SKWW) has been awarded a Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) certificate by SmartWood.

According to the latest Timber Trade Federation newsletter, the Chinese plywood maker not only had to meet the demands of the international Verified Legal Origin standard, but also “provide supplementary evidence of environmental and social compliance” for the independent auditor. It had to show too that there was no risk of its VLC-compliant raw material mixing with non-compliant material.

SKWW exports to the EU via NV Altripan of Belgium and its certification signify that it meets Europe’s definitions on timber legality. It also means it has taken the necessary measures to minimise the risk of illegal timber contaminating its supplies to comply with the new EU Timber Regulation that comes into force in 2013.

Following nomination from Altripan, the Chinese company went through the certification process under the international Tropical Trade Action Plan (TTAP) and was assisted by The Forest Trust (TFT).

The VLC certification supply chain currently covers three poplar farmers, three peeling mills and SKKW’s mill. With TFT’s help, the company and Altripan are now working to extend it to other forest sites and timber species, both in China and abroad.