Looking for sustainable timber for your new project but aren’t sure where to begin? If you don’t know your FSC® from your CoC and are feeling lost in the sustainable timber wilderness, this list of frequently-asked-questions will help you navigate the complicated tangle of timber certification.
What does the typical supply chain look like?
The typical supply chain is fairly straightforward: products move from forest to wholesaler and then from timber merchant or hardware store to the consumer. Every stakeholder in the sustainable timber supply chain is required to have certification.
What are the different certification schemes, and how do I know if they are reliable?
Many programs around the world support sustainable logging, but when it comes to assessing reliable schemes the important things to look for are government regulation, management structure and transparency.
Two of the most trusted and rigorous certification schemes are the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) both not-for-profit organisations (AFS (Australian Forestry Standards) is the Australian arm). Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is the world’s largest forest certification system, the preferred choice for small, non-industrial private forests. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organisation that develops standards based on the '10 Principles for Forest Stewardship' by which responsible forest management can be measured.
What is Chain of Custody (CoC)?
Chain of Custody (CoC) is a form of consumer guarantee; a process that tracks wood products from their origins in a certified forest right through to the end-user, who is able to trace the source of their timber. For the product to be truly certified for PEFC or FSC, official documents must be obtained from every organisation the timber passes through: if any fail, the chain is broken. To maintain the certification, each certificate in the chain is audited 12 monthly by an independent certifying body.
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Is AFS different to PEFC?
The Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) is the Australian arm of PEFC, and is run according to the same criteria.
How does certification work? Do they certify the forests or the companies?
This is where it gets a bit complicated. A timber mill may be certified, but it doesn’t mean that all the timber from their forests are certified. Some timber mills only have selected forests which are certified for Chain of Custody. Timber mills have to have the capability to handle CoC goods, which involves a comprehensive administrative process and separate areas to hold the certifed material.
Which countries are most reliable for sustainable timber? Does it need to be purchased under schemes like PEFC or FSC?
It depends on the source. Western territories such as Australia, USA, Scandinavia and Western Europe generally have the most transparent and rigorous programs. Purchasing timber under the PEFC or FSC certification in countries such as Burma, India and North Africa – or anywhere corruption is rife - is strongly advised.
What are the relevant certification programs when purchasing timber in Australia?
The majority of Australian clients only request CoC in order to obtain Green Stars for commercial projects, due to firm government regulations around illegal logging of timber. If CoC is required, the two main schemes are AFS and FSC. AFS certified timber is cost-effective and readily available, while FSC timber is limited to a handful of small boutique mills and costly. Timber from the US is similar to Australia in terms of government regulation. If Green Star points are required, FSC is the most commonly used program. When purchasing timber from Asia or South America, we advise you request certification and contact a third party such as FSC or PEFC to verify authenticity.
What programs are Woodform involved with?
Woodform are audited every 12 months to ensure that we remain compliant and able to provide Chain of Custody timber. We provide timber which is certified under FSC, PEFC and AFS standards.
Does Greenpeace have any forestry programs?
Greenpeace did introduce the a forestry program called the 'GoodWood Guide' several years ago, but it has since been removed and is currently under review. From our understanding the GoodWood Guide didn’t involve a comprehensive Chain of Custody program like FSC or PEFC.
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Woodform FSC Certification Code SCS-COC-003735
Woodform PEFC Certification Registration Number SCS-PEFC/COC-003735
Woodform FSC License Code C-105893