Confor calls for UK Timber Procurement Policy to be updated

28 April 2020

Confor has asked the UK Forestry Minister to review and update the UK Government's Timber Procurement Policy (TPP) - because it can be an obstacle for small woodland owners to participate in public procurement of wood products and creates "unnecessary barriers to sustainable management of UK woodland".

In the letter to Lord Goldsmith, chief executive Stuart Goodall said TPP, introduced almost 20 years ago to help tackle imports of illegally logged timber and promote sustainable forest management, had been "a world-leading initiative and helped facilitate real change in global efforts to tackle illegal logging" and said the UK was "a model of good practice".

However, he added, the downside to TPP was the creation of a new layer of bureaucracy for owners of small woodlands: "While owners of larger areas of UK woodland and forest were already becoming accustomed to certification against the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS), the time and money associated with having a woodland certified to the government-recognised FSC and PEFC schemes was, and remains, prohibitive for small woods and businesses." 

Mr Goodall said a number of initiatives to reduce certification costs for small woods had been trialled unsuccessfully by FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council), the scheme of choice for environmental NGOs. The impact was, he told the minister, that "well-managed UK woodlands and small wood-producing businesses are being disadvantaged in public procurement because they cannot justify the cost of being certified." 

He continued: "There are alternative means of demonstrating TPP compliance, including management in accordance with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS).

"I strongly welcome the UK Government’s stated desire to see more UK woodlands managed sustainably, and at its heart that recognises management against the UKFS. I would ask that you review the operation of the TPP as it applies to UK woodlands to ensure it can still meet its central purpose of tackling illegality and promoting sustainability, but also to ensure that it does not create unnecessary barriers to sustainable management of UK woodland that meet the standards of UKFS."

The letter has been copied to Sir William Worsley, chair of the Forestry Commission.