PEFC UK says it is astonished that timber certified to the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) is not expected to be classed as “sustainable” in a report to be recommended to government.

Consultants to the government’s Central Point of Expertise on Timber Procurement (CPET), which have assessed five certification schemes as part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs‘ (DEFRA) overhaul of timber procurement polices, are to recommend that PEFC is proof of “legal” but not sustainable sourcing.

However, another of the schemes under scrutiny, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is being recommended as evidence of both legality and sustainability.

PEFC UK Ltd chairman Len Yull has sent a written complaint to forestry minister Elliot Morley, who is due to make a decision on the recommendations.

Mr Yull, who said he had already been contacted by several “angry” UK timber companies, added: “If this recommendation is approved there will be a huge row all over Europe. People operating in wood chains with PEFC certificates may find they are barred from the market in preference to somebody else. It’s absolutely crazy.”

Mr Yull said one reason why PEFC was not being recommended as sustainable was its refusal to make public corrective actions flagged up in chain of custody and forest management auditing. To do so, he said, was against ISO standards.

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF), along with DEFRA and the WWF, are represented on the CPET supervisory board.

TTF head of public affairs Mark O’Brien said: “While we can’t influence the work of the consultants we tried to make sure it has been done in a fair way.”