Flegt licensing a legality assurance step change

28 December 2016

Leading independent timber and panel products distributor James Latham is preparing for its first shipment of FLEGT-licensed timber from Indonesia early in 2017. Lathams Ltd chairman and managing director Chris Sutton sees it as a major development and licensed products as a natural complement to its proactive environmental policy

As James Latham enters its 260th year of trading in 2017, it continues to strive to be at the forefront in environmental best practice and FLEGT fits perfectly with our best in class environmental strategy.

We source timber products from all corners of the world and stock everything from tropical and temperate solid hardwoods and plywood to flooring and door blanks.

Sustainability and environmental considerations across this range are paramount and we want to ensure that support for legal and sustainable forestry is heard loud and clear.

As members of the Timber Trade Federation, we were among the first to sign up to its Responsible Purchasing Policy and all 10 of our depots are FSC and PEFC certified.

James Latham chairman, Peter Latham OBE, who has recently been made chairman of the PEFC International board, also signed a declaration of support for the WWF 2020 Forest Campaign. This pledges the company to business practices aligned to the Campaign, helping to eliminate illegal timber trade as well as increasing awareness and guaranteeing sustainable forestry and trade.

Senior members of our team, including environmental manager Ewa Bazydlo, plus panels purchasing director Piers Latham and tropical hardwoods procurement manager Vicki Link, have worked continually with our supply base, initially on the TTF RPP, then EUTR and now FLEGT and FLEGT licensing.

New suppliers can sometimes find us quite challenging when we dig as deep as we do, but when they see our commitment to them, and that we are all about long-term partnership, trust and transparency, they realise it is worth the effort.

The suppliers of our first FLEGT-licensed wood products are PT Kutai Timber Indonesia via the UK’s Pacific Rim Wood Sales.

We’ve worked with the Indonesian manufacturer and Pacific Rim’s sales director Shaun Hannan for over 20 years to develop and promote Kutai’s Flamebreak door blanks. Both believe in innovation and long-term partnerships and they have been to the forefront when it comes to FLEGT.

They have liaised with us throughout the long process and we are delighted that they have achieved their aims. As for Indonesia’s success in implementing its FLEGT VPA and becoming the first country to issue FLEGT licences, the achievement is huge.

Illegal logging of tropical hardwood has been the bête noir of our industry and Indonesia’s reputation years ago was tarnished by it.

This step change will give buyers and customers real security and we think having the ability to offer FLEGT-licensed timber products from Indonesia shows what is possible with hard work. It also sets an example for other supplier countries engaged in the EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement process.

FLEGT-licensed products provide another framework to help ensure illegal timber doesn’t leak out and, as well as giving more confidence to our customers by providing the comfort and reassurance of knowing they can source legal tropical hardwood product from us, I believe it will also provide new opportunities within the marketplace.