WWF is commissioning an independent review of its Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) following recent criticisms of the programme.

The action follows publication of a Global Witness report Pandering to the Loggers which said GFTN members, including logging companies, international timber traders and merchants, were failing to meet the requirements of the programme, with some allegedly involved in rainforest destruction.

The report also called for an independent and comprehensive evaluation of GFTN rules, transparency procedures and the scheme’s impact on forests.

“GFTN had already scheduled a review of all its activities to take place in 2012, but we believe that in view of the current controversy, and in the interests of transparency, it is appropriate to bring it forward,” WWF said in a statement.

WWF has already started the process of finding an experienced, independent and reputable third party with the aim of completing the review by the end of 2011.

“This decision in no way implies that WWF accepts the allegations or recommendations contained in the recent Global Witness report Pandering to the Loggers,” WWF added.

WWF repeated its earlier view that the Global Witness report contains errors and misleading statements.

It is confident the review will demonstrate that its current set of performance and monitoring procedures are fit for purpose.