This remains at an embryonic stage and little detail has yet been revealed, but the government, its agencies and Chinese trade associations have all expressed commitment to legality verification and assurance. The verification system initiative is being led by the Chinese Academy of Forestry, Research Institute of Forestry Policy and Information (RIFPI), the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) in collaboration and UK consultancy ProForest. China has also established a Bilateral Coordination Mechanism for exchange on forest law, enforcement and governance with EU authorities and the FLEGT Facility. In addition it has signed bilateral agreements on the issue with producer and consumer countries. These initiatives follow on from the start of the China Green Wood Industry Action Plan, a collaboration between industry, government and WWF China. The China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association has additionally organised training events for member companies on the US Lacey Act and EU Timber Regulation. With the WWF, it is also undertaking joint feasibility studies on the potential of Chinese public procurement policy to shape timber and wood products markets.
The Japanese Goho Wood scheme covers government timber, wood and forest products procurement, stipulating a range of legality and sustainability criteria and acceptable methods of certification and verification. All companies supplying government projects must comply. NGOs and others have pressed for the system to be adapted and converted into a national market legality requirement framework covering all timber imported into and sold in Japan.
The role of EU-recognised Monitoring Organisations (MOs) is to deliver an EU Timber Regulation (EUTR)-compliant due diligence system and conduct regular due diligence performance evaluations of their members. In this vein, MOs are to help EU companies fulfil their legal obligations. EU-recognised MOs have been evaluated by the European Commission and found competent to assist EU operators in meeting their key EUTR obligations. MOs are also formally obliged to report members' repeated failures to observe due diligence to the relevant Competent Authority. The performance of MOs is surveyed by the national Competent Authorities in each country where the MO operates. So far, nine MOs have been recognised by the EU Commission. Those include Bureau Veritas Certification Holding, Control Union Certifications, Consorzio Servizi Legno-Sugher (Conlegno), NEPCon and, recently appointed in January 2015, the German and French timber trade associations GD Holz and Le Commerce du Bois as well as ICILA srl, the Italian auditing and certification operation, and counterpart UK businesses SGS UK Ltd and Soil Association Woodmark.
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) was adopted on 20 October 2010. It prohibits the placing of illegally harvested wood and products made of illegal timber on the EU market. It also lays down the due diligence illegality risk assessment obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the EU market. It is designed to counter the trade in illegally harvested timber and timber products. Under the EUTR, EU operators who place timber products on the EU market for the first time are required to exercise 'due diligence', i.e. to implement a risk management exercise that is to minimise the risk of placing illegally harvested timber on the EU market. This entails risk assessment of all suppliers and further risk minimisation, involving ensuring additional evidence of legality where initial due diligence has not produced sufficient proof. If this process does not provide satisfactory assurance, the EU 'operator' is most likely to have to drop the supplier. To facilitate the traceability of timber products within the EU, traders further down the supply chain have an obligation to keep records of their suppliers and customers. Infringement of the EUTR, which entered into application on 3 March 2013, can result in criminal sanctions or fines. The sanctions are imposed by the EU member states and vary in severity between them.
The Lacey Act is a 1900 United States law that bans trafficking in illegal wildlife. In 2008, the Act was amended to include plants and plant products such as timber and paper. The US was thus the first nation to impose a ban on trade in illegally sourced wood products. The Lacey Act is a 'fact-based statute with strict liability', which means that only actual legality counts (no third-party certification or verification schemes can be used to "prove" legality under the Act) and that violators of the law can face criminal and civil sanctions even if they did not know that they were dealing with an illegally harvested product. Penalties for violating the Lacey Act vary in severity based on the violator's level of knowledge about the product: penalties are higher for those who knew they were trading in illegally harvested materials. For those who did not know, penalties vary based on whether the individual or company in question did everything possible to determine that the product was legal. In the U.S. system, this is called "due care". More information: http://www.forestlegality.org/policy/us-lacey-act http://www.worldwildlife.org/publications/lacey-act-fact-sheet
The Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation, like similar legislation in the other consumer markets of the EU and U.S., was designed to support the trade of legal timber into Australia and to close the Australian market to illegally produced wood products. In November 2012, the Regulation received Royal Assent, and its prohibitions are in place. The Regulation makes it a criminal offense in Australia to import timber and timber products containing illegally sourced timber; and to process Australian raw logs that have been illegally logged. Potential criminal sanctions may range up to five years' imprisonment, AUS$55,000 for an individual, and AUS$275,000 for a corporation or body corporate. The due diligence requirements, the detailed list of products covered by the Regulation, and the operational framework for importers and processors are laid out in regulations that entered into force on 30 November 2014.
Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are a central element of the EU's strategy in the fight against illegal logging. A VPA is a bilateral trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU. The internal EU legal framework for this scheme is the FLEGT Regulation adopted in December 2005. A VPA aims to guarantee that any wood exported from a timber-producing country to the EU comes from legal sources and to help the partner country stop illegal logging by improving forest governance and regulation. VPAs are voluntary for timber-exporting countries. However, once a VPA has entered into force, it is legally binding on both sides. Under the VPA, the timber-producing country develops timber legality assurance, systems to verify that its timber exports are legal and associated monitoring, chain of custody and, ultimately, licensing frameworks. The EU agrees to accept only (FLEGT-) licensed imports from that country once available. Six countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, and Republic of the Congo) have signed a VPA with the EU and are currently developing the systems needed to control, verify and license legal timber. Nine more countries are in negotiations with the EU. Another eleven countries in Africa, Asia and Central and South America have expressed an interest in VPAs.
FLEGT stands for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. The EU's FLEGT Action Plan was established in 2003. It aims to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber. The Action Plan sets out a range of supply and demand side measures available to the EU and its member states to tackle illegal logging in the world's forests. The key regions and countries targeted in the FLEGT Action Plan, which together contain nearly 60% of the world's forest and supply a large proportion of internationally traded timber, are Central Africa, Russia, Tropical South America and Southeast Asia. The FLEGT Action Plan has led to two key pieces of legislation: the FLEGT regulation adopted in 2005 and the EU Timber Regulation adopted in 2010. More information: http://ec.europa.eu/development/icenter/repository/FLEGT_en_final_en.pdf
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Washington Convention, CITES)CITES is an international agreement between governments that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The Convention was agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington, D.C., on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force. Species covered by CITES can only be traded with a special permit issued by an exporting country's designated Management and Scientific Authority. A current listing of wood and other tree products covered by CITES can be viewed at: http://www.fws.gov/international/plants/current-cites-listings-of-tree-species.html
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