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Retail industry backs WWF’s work to combat deforestation


Illegal timber sourcing is a huge issue for the environment as it leads to deforestation and biodiversity loss. But is everyone doing the best they can to combat it? Guest blogger Leah Riley Brown, from the British Retail Consortium, discusses more.

Retailers across the UK understand that the world’s forests perform critical functions both globally and locally, and WWF’s continued work to combat deforestation is commendable. But it takes efforts across different industries to bring the change we need.

A truck loaded with acacia leaves the plantation. Phu Loc district, Vietnam. © James Morgan / WWF A truck loaded with acacia leaves the plantation. Phu Loc district, Vietnam. © James Morgan / WWF

Timber Scorecard 2017

WWF’s Timber Scorecard assesses companies on their progress towards sustainable. Their 2017 scorecard shows that many retailers doing their part to sustainably source timber and timber products. But it also shows where more work needs to be done; of the 128 brands reviewed, 30 scored zero. Some sectors are ignoring the pressing need to source timber sustainably and contribute to tackling illegal and unsustainable trade.

The British Retail Consortium and its members fully support the eradication of trade of illegally harvested timber and hopes the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) will help strengthen retailers’ efforts to source sustainably sourced timber.

Since EUTR’s inception in March 2013, it has been an offence to place illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market. Many retailers have due diligence systems in place to mitigate the risks of illegal timber entering the supply chain. However, some timber products are still entering the market through loopholes in the regulation. It takes concerted efforts to try and prevent this from continuing to happen.

Harvested logs from Kolombangara Forest Products Limited. © Jürgen Freund / WWFHarvested logs from Kolombangara Forest Products Limited. © Jürgen Freund / WWF

British Retail Consortium on tackling deforestation

BRC’s Timber Working Group is comprised of several retail members who regularly convene to discuss how to have responsible and sustainable sourcing policies. As a trade and member organisation, BRC supports its members both large and small by keeping the channels of communication open. This means continuing to receive regulation updates coming out of Brussels as well as hearing updates from members about how they are battling this issue within the non-competitive space. WWF have often joined us to share insights on forest issues and developments.

The ‘EU Timber Regulation: Overview of a Due Diligence System (PDF)’ report that BRC published in April 2012 aimed to help retailers understand the requirements of EUTR and gave several approaches to develop a due diligence system. This would help retailers find information about the supply of their timber products, develop risk assessments to determine the risk of illegality, and implement a policy or procedure to mitigate the risks as well.

Once an update for the scope of EUTR is published later in 2017, the BRC Timber Group will review how this will affect retailers and their suppliers. Ideally, the regulation should be consistent with the aim of its enforcement and deliver policy objectives that it was designed for. BRC encourages the responsible and sustainable sourcing of timber and timber products and will continue to support retailer members with their efforts.

Alphonse of WWF Cameroon pointing at FSC certified logs. © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UKAlphonse of WWF Cameroon pointing at FSC certified logs. © Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

WWF’s latest timber scorecard shows that progress can be made by committed businesses to promote sustainable forest trade. We look forward to seeing more businesses getting on this journey to help combat deforestation.

Guest blog by Leah Riley Brown at leah.rileybrown@brc.org.uk. Please contact Leah for more information about the British Retail Consortium or the Timber Working Group.

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