This follows expressions of concern from the industry, including the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), over the potential cost and complexity of the new system compared to existing paper-based approaches, and claimed insufficient early consultation.

The OCP has been developed by UK traceability software specialist Historic Futures (HF) for use by all certified buyers, from traders and importers, to manufacturers and retailers, to record purchases of FSC material.

riginally this was due to start in 2014 and become obligatory at the latest by the time certified companies underwent their 2015 FSC audits. Now they will still have to register and connect with suppliers on the system next year, but the compulsory claims date won’t be decided until a later FSC board meeting.

"After important feedback only a limited number of steps will be required next year," said FSC UK executive director Charles Thwaites. "The intention is to allow certificate holders adequate time to test the OCP’s functionality."

"We will incorporate users’ feedback into a programme of constant improvement, so this time next year it will be even better and easier to use," said HF chief executive Tim Wilson.

The TTF, together with the European Timber Trade Federation, Soil Association and other bodies, co-signed a letter in October to FSC director-general Kim Carstensen, urging it to undertake more OCP pilot testing.

They warned it might result in some companies abandoning the FSC because of fears over bureaucracy and complexity, and added that its comments that the current claims registering approach was prone to abuse, could undermine confidence in certification generally.

TTF chief executive John White said deferment of the claims entry decision was still not enough to allay trade anxieties.

"There’s deep unhappiness that companies must still register to use the system, when there has not yet been clarification of the terms and conditions," he said. "The FSC underestimates the level of trade belligerence now towards the OCP over the levels of consultation."

He said many felt that the cost of setting up the platform might be better spent paying for more FSC auditors to tackle shortcomings in the current claims system, which were "generally isolated to particular parts of the world".

Mr Wilson said companies could enter claims on the OCP next year on a voluntary basis.

A "sandbox" facility will also be set up online to allow users to trial the system.