The EUTR (European Union Timber Regulation) came into force on 3rd March 2013 and prohibits timber and timber products from illegally harvested sources being placed on the European Union market.
The legislation shall be enforced by all EU member states and requires that due diligence is applied to all timber and timber products placed on the EU market. More importantly, it requires that traders, including those further down the supply chain, keep track of what timber or timber products were bought, from whom, and where applicable, who they were sold to.
Under Article 4 of the EUTR¸ any natural or legal person that places timber or timber products on the EU market for the first time are classed as an “Operator” and as such are obliged to exercise and conduct the relevant “due diligence”.
To place the timber on the market, the importer must carry out a “due diligence” process. This process requires:
- Information about the supply of timber products, including description, species, country of harvest, quantity, name and address of supplier and trader and documents indicating compliance with the applicable legislation.
- Evaluation of the risk of placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the market. Criteria which can be used to assess this risk include:
a) Assurance of compliance with applicable legislation, including certification schemes and third party verification
b) Prevalence of illegal harvesting of specific tree species
c) Prevalence of illegal logging in the country of harvest
d) UN or EU sanctions on timber imports or exports
e) Complexity of the supply chain
- Unless the risk of illegality is negligible, steps shall be taken to mitigate this risk; for example, addition information, third party verification.
Failure to carry out the above could incur seizure of the timber or timber products or dissuasive penalties.
Under Article 5 of the EUTR¸ any natural or legal person who, in the course of a commercial activity, sells or buys on the internal market, timber or timber products already placed on the internal market, are classed as a “Trader” and as such the Company shall have access to the following information:
a) identification of the timber or timber products, including its trade name and type;
b) identification of tree species included in timber or timber products by their common name and/or their scientific/botanical name where applicable;
c) country of harvest of the timber or timber products and where applicable sub-national region and/or concession of harvest.
A competent authority has been appointed to carry out the checks to verify that the law is complied with; in the UK this is the NMO (National Measurements Office). The consequences for not complying with the law may include fines, seizure of the timber or timber products, immediate suspension of authorisation to trade and custodial sentences.