Information for operators
The EU Timber Regulation defines operators as any natural or legal person that places timber or timber products on the EU market. This website provides operators with answers to frequently asked questions about FLEGT licences, guidance on how to communicate about FLEGT licences and information on the Competent Authorities in each EU Member State and their procedures for handling FLEGT licences. The following text summarises key aspects of FLEGT licences of relevance to operators in the EU.
FLEGT-licensed timber meets the due diligence requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), saving you time and money.
The EUTR requires that operators exercise due diligence when placing timber or timber products on the market. Exercising due diligence means undertaking a risk management exercise so as to minimise the risk of placing illegally harvested timber, or timber products containing illegally harvested timber, on the EU market. Operators in the EU do not need to exercise further due diligence on imports of FLEGT-licensed timber.
FLEGT licences guarantee legality – products with a FLEGT licence come from independently verified legal sources.
FLEGT licences can only be issued by countries that have implemented ratified a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU. To issue FLEGT licences a VPA partner country must implement a timber legality assurance system and other measures specified in the VPA. When fully operational a timber legality assurance system is both robust and credible, as it includes effective supply chain controls, mechanisms for verifying compliance and is subject to independent audits., a country must develop an independently audited timber legality assurance system with robust supply chain controls and procedures to verify legal compliance. Before FLEGT licensing can begin, the EU and the partner country must confirm that the system works as described in the VPA. Thus, products with a FLEGT licence come from independently verified legal sources.
FLEGT licences enhance the reputation of the timber product industry and timber products by underlining commitments to legal trade and good forest governance.
In order to issue FLEGT licences a VPA country will have made significant improvements to forest governance. These improvements are made through a comprehensive multistakeholder process and are described in the Voluntary Partner Agreement between the partner country and the EU. Countries that issue FLEGT licences have a robust, audited system for tracking timber and verifying its legality throughout the supply chain — a ‘timber legality assurance system’. They have committed to making information about their forest sector publicly available, introducing an unprecedented level of transparency. As well as promoting legal trade, the multistakeholder processes involved in improving forest governance and developing FLEGT licensing schemes contribute to social and environmental goals.
FLEGT licensing and certification can work together. Certification covers areas and products. FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) cover entire countries and supply chains.
FLEGT-licensed timber meets all the requirements of VPAs and the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), and therefore is automatically considered legal. Certification, on the other hand, helps companies to exercise due diligence but is not automatically a proof of legality. It assists with compliance with the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation but does not replace a FLEGT licence. Under the EUTR, certification schemes are not considered as a proof of legally harvested timber, but they can contribute to meeting the due diligence requirement. Forest certification standards targeting at sustainable forest management however can be more far-reaching than legality definitions under VPAs. For more information see the frequently asked questions on certification.
When you buy FLEGT-licensed timber you support the international movements to combat illegal logging and associated trade, improve forest governance, address climate change and conserve biodiversity.
The EU FLEGT Action Plan is part of a global movement to combat illegal logging and associated trade, and ensure that forests are sustainably managed. Before 2008, no country subjected wood imports to legality checks. Today, at least 32 countries have legislation in place to control imports of illegal timber, and more countries are developing such laws. FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) lay the foundation of sustainable forest management by improving legal clarity, institutional capacity and company practices. One way VPAs do this is through their legality definitions, which include laws and regulations relating to sustainability. Efforts to combat illegal logging can therefore support efforts to protect wild species and mitigate climate change by conserving forests.