The importance of sustainably sourced wood | 5 key aspects
Consumer interest in sustainable and ethical products extends beyond the food, beverage, and fashion industries. Today, more and more buyers are looking at the origin of all products in their homes, including wood and paper products. According to monitoring data, the total forest area of the world exceeds 3.4 billion hectares or 27% of the earth's land area.
Wood and paper products make up a large part of our daily lives and can be found everywhere in our homes, from the furniture we buy to the packaging of many household products. According to Sourcing.eco interviews, consumers are looking to strengthen their commitment to sustainability are looking for wood and paper products that match their values.
Why is wood better than other materials?
Eco-friendly wood and paper products can be a smart choice over other materials because:
- They come from renewable resources - trees, a product of sunlight, soil, and water nutrients.
- They are recyclable, meaning they can be reused or turned into other products, extending their lifespan, and adding wood fiber to the available wood fiber resources.
- A tree needs carbon to grow, which the tree absorbs from the air in the form of carbon dioxide. Excessive accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - including carbon dioxide - leads to climate change. But thanks to the ability to photosynthesis, the forest captures, and stores carbon dioxide. So, it softens and slows down climate change.
What is sustainable forestry and timber?
Sustainable wood, compared to any other wood on the market, has been legally sourced and harvested in a way that protects the other existing trees in the forest, as well as the waterways, wildlife, and environment in which the wood was harvested.
For wood imported from other countries, sustainability also means collecting wood in a way that respects the rights of indigenous peoples in the area. In sustainable logging practices, new saplings are planted faster than trees are removed, thereby allowing forests to grow.
In Sourcing.eco we understand that it is not always possible to trace the origin of wood and paper products. Supply chains can sometimes link many wood producers and traders in several countries.
That’s why requesting documentation from suppliers is a common method for tracing the origin of raw materials. Buyers can track the supply chain through contracts and require their suppliers to commit to supplying raw materials that have been harvested in accordance with the law or meet other customer specifications.
In addition to sales contracts, other documents for tracking the origin of raw materials include:
- Licensing permit from the relevant authorities giving permission to harvest
- Certificate of sustainable forest management standard
- Certificate of origin
- Chain of Custody Certificate
- Legality Certificate
- Collection/management plans
- Phytosanitary certificates - issued by state/local authorities regarding plant health requirements for the import of unprocessed products.
- Other documents
Sourcing.eco team always investigates updates in certification and regulations about sustainable sourcing.
Laws & Policies
Over the past decade, a growing number of consumer countries have taken steps to ban the trade in illegally harvested wood and timber products, encourage the trade in authorized wood, and support forest law enforcement in the country of origin.
These efforts employ diverse methods to unlawfully harvest timber, but they all have the same goal: to prohibit the trade in illegally harvested timber and, as a result, shifting consumer demand and production toward legal forest products through market access and possible fines.
Key consumer laws related to illegal logging and related trade include the plant provisions of the US Lacey Act, the European Union Timber Regulation and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Act, and most recently Korea's Sustainable Wood Law, Japan's Clean Wood Law, and UK Timber Regulations.
Ensuring responsible wood production. Certification
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the system of voluntary forest certification has been spreading. Forest certification is a procedure in which the quality of forest management is assessed against the criteria of a certain standard. If the quality meets the standard, then the forest management organization is issued a certificate confirming this. The presence of a sustainable forest management certificate from a logger confirms that it was harvested from well-managed forests.
Key features of certification:
- Equal attention is given to environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainability.
- Forest management standards should be agreed upon with various civil society groups and businesses.
- The forest management assessment is carried out by a third independent party organization.
In 1993, the first internationally recognized certification system appeared - the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), its appearance was due to the following key problems of the existing forest management model:
- rapid loss of tropical forests
- the need for special measures to conserve tropical and temperate forests
- destructive nature of clear-cuts for the forest environment and biodiversity, excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers
- replacement of natural forests (especially tropical ones) by plantations and negative consequences of plantation afforestation
- ignoring the interests and rights of local communities and communities of indigenous peoples
To date, among the most common forest certification systems are:
- Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
- The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- Program for the approval of forestry schemes
Commitment to Responsible Sourcing
Large corporations are aware of the need for more sustainable wood supply chains and have committed to ensuring responsible suppliers:
In this regard, IKEA is a good example - the company strives to use wood as rationally as possible and purchase raw materials only from responsible sources, which is also guaranteed by their IWAY supplier standard. IKEA also does not use wood from high conservation value forests, illegal sources, social conflict sites, genetically modified forests, and tropical forests converted to plantations, and also ensures that reforestation is ensured at the place of felling. To date, the company only uses FSC-certified wood.
We at Sourcing.eco are working on many projects for sustainable sourcing and see these commitments for sustainable and responsible timber sourcing growing as a business priority of our customers. If properly managed, taking into account the characteristics of the forest as an object of management, they have great potential to contribute to sustainable and balanced economic development, in providing rural livelihoods, providing employment, energy, food, and a wide range of goods and ecosystem services.