Latest News / Updates

Aug 17

Sustainable Palm Oil – Support Program:

Sustainable Palm Oil – Support Program:

GFS is now offering a support program for Sustainable Palm Oil for companies to develop management systems to meet international and national certification requirements such as RSPO or MSPO systems. The new program is designed to support companies to development management planning and operational procedures to manage palm oil plantations in line with RSPO or MSPO as applicable to the company.

Legal Verification Services & Wood Tracking Program:

GFS has revised the Legal Verification Services and Wood Tracking Program to better mitigate risk of unknown & illegal material entering the supply chain through a documented supplier risk assessment and site evaluation systems to verify wood products originate from a legal forest or plantation areas. The Wood Tracking Program is used to assess and monitor a formal Chain of Custody (CoC) system for manufacturers and trading companies to track the raw material used in wood products to a verified legal forest or plantation area. Legal Verification Service (LVS) provides for field evaluation of legal compliance for raw material that comes from forests or plantation areas that are considered not low risk for legality.

Companies participating in the GFS Wood Tracking Program must have a formal Chain of Custody system to trace material from purchasing through production and sale of wood products. Purchases of raw material and wood products must be vetted through a formal Risk Assessment that documents Low Risk of all material entering supply chain. The Risk Assessment consists of evaluating Country Level Risk, Species Risk & Operational Risk. Any material not considered low risk based on the Risk Assessment must undergo site evaluation for legal compliance based on the LVS Standard (GFS-WI-006-LVS-1 LVS Legal Requirement) or National / Local Standard for Legality. The GFS LVS & WTP is designed to support system for due care for the Lacey Act and due diligence to meet EU timber trade regulations, the Australian Illegal Logging Act and Japanese Goho Wood.

Sabah Timber Legality Monitoring:
GFS provides monitoring of legal verification of ALL long-term forest management and licensed harvest areas in Sabah, Malaysia based on compliance to the current Sabah Forest Legality Standard for forest operations developed by the Forestry Department Sabah (FDS). GFS has been monitoring the FLEGT Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) for forests in Sabah, Malaysia since May 2009 that is planned to continue through 2019 supported by the Sabah Forestry Department and Yayasan Sabah Foundation. FDS developed the Sabah Legality Standard for forestry operations (current version: Appendix A: Principles 1-4 dated 13 Nov 2013) for field evaluation of compliance as recorded in this document (GFS Ref. #: G161-001 v01 Nov 2014).

Sabah Timber Legality monitoring includes verification of legality through manufacturing and trade based on Appendix A: Principles 5&6 v02 Nov 2014. GFS conducts annual assessments for all manufacturing and export companies to document compliance to the Sabah Legality Standard for processing and trade.

Philippine Due Diligence System:
GFS has drafted a Guidebook that provides a methodology to assist the timber industry to establish a Chain of Custody coupled with a due diligence system for the market, as buyers want a single source of information that is consistent and reliable. The draft Guidebook sets out both a framework for the Philippine Industry & Trade to follow in regards to Chain of Custody system in the form of procedures that is integrated with a formal monitoring procedure that can be managed by the timber associations to check implementation by it’s members.

The draft Guidebook has been revised based on comments and will be field-tested on 10 companies in 3 regions of the Philippines. Results of the field test will be presented in regional and national workshops, to obtain input from stakeholders to revise the Philippine Guidebook and Due Diligence system for implementation by the Timber Industries.

Ghana Wood Tracking System:
GFS was part of a consortium led by Ata Marie to support the Ghana Government – Forestry Commission to develop a Wood Tracking System to meet their commitments in the FLEGT VPA and the EU Timber Regulations. The Ghana Wood Tracking System was developed as an integrated IT database project to capture forest inventory and tree harvesting data that can be tracked through production and export of finished wood products. The Wood Tracking System incorporates a verification system that includes both data and field evaluation of compliance with the Ghana Legality Standard. GFS provided the expertise for designing the verification system for the forests, wood processing and trade of wood products being used in the Ghana Wood Tracking System.

Aug 20

GFS Response to Global Witness Letter dated 23 July 2015

GFS Response to Global Witness Letter dated 23 July 2015:

Global Witness has issued an open letter dated 23 July 2015 to “Buyers of Sarawak Timber” that accused the state of widespread illegal logging, abuse of native rights and destruction of tropical forests and biodiversity. GFS shares the organization’s concern on logging activities in Sarawak, Malaysia. However, Global Witness did not provide correct information in their letter regarding Global Forestry Services and the assessment of Timber License T/0413. Thus, GFS has provided a letter to Sarawak Timber Association and Participants in the GFS Wood Tracking & Legal Verification programs clarifying the actual situation concerning GFS programs and the assessment of Samling license T/0413.

Sarawak:

The new Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Datuk Patinggi Haji Adenan Satem has made significant efforts to address illegal logging in Sarawak since taking office in 2014. The Chief Minister has stopped approving new timber concessions and permits for large-scale plantations; however, joint-venture NCR plantations and small holdings can still be approved. The Chief Minister is also giving long-term tenure to timber licensees who are undertaking timber certification. In addition, the State’s Forests Ordinance has been strengthened to better regulate its forest resources.

GFS Legal Verification & Wood Tracking Programs:

The GFS Programs are designed to support the due diligence needed by importers to support them to comply with the US Lacey Act; Australian Illegal Logging Act; Japan Goho Wood & EU Timber Regulations.
Global Witness accuses GFS Legal Verification Services to be questionable, based on old reviews conducted in 2012. GFS operates the LVS and WTP in accordance to formal procedures based on ISO systems that are reviewed annually. The current versions of the programs were revised in March 2015, which have addressed concerns raised in the previous report.

The GFS Legal Verification Service is operated based on formal procedural systems (GFS PR 008 v07 March 2015) using common industry procedures used by many certification bodies but incorporate local requirements such as for Sarawak Malaysia (LVS-005a Legal Requirements Sarawak v06 Feb 2014). The Chain of Custody system is governed by a formal procedure (GFS PR-007 WTP v06 March 2015) with the requirements defined in document # WTP-005 v10 March 2015.

Assessment of Samling License area T/0413:

GFS assessed the management and operational activities of the company within the licensed area and evaluated ALL currently active logging coupes within T/0413. The Norwegian Pension Fund references issued raised in 2009 that was not evident in the 2015 assessment.

GFS checked all 14 Longhouse agreements and interviewed the head of 3 out of the 14 long houses to verify that the agreements and communication system was functional. Long houses identified by Global Witness in their report on Sarawak & Samling include Long Kerong, Long Sepigen and Long Lamai were NOT located within T/0413 license area, thus were out of the scope of the assessment.

A portion of the disputed area claimed by Longhouse Ba Jawi actually overlaps land claimed by 3 other longhouses that have signed formal agreements with Samling.

Coupe areas that do not have agreements are excluded from planned harvesting operations. Samling is only operating in coupe areas where agreements have been signed. There was no evidence of logging within disputed areas of coupes during the assessment.

Sarawak Timber Trade:

Trade in tropical timber is important to maintain the forest industry. Boycotting timber from tropical forests will continue to devalue the forest resources and wood products that can result in increased pressure to convert forests into higher value commodities such as oil palm. The trade for verified / certified timber products can make a positive difference in tropical forestry and sustainability of the timber industry in Sarawak by pushing the industry to become more transparent in the traceability of material as well as in the management of tropical natural forests.

GFS is keen to work with the Sarawak government to advocate improved forest and logging practices and has recently been encouraged by the change in direction of the Sarawak Government towards Sustainable Forest Management. GFS provides professional services to assist the forest sector move from conventional logging to sustainable forest management systems.

GFS encourages the market to promote the trade in both Certified & Verified Legal wood products from Sarawak, as it will support improvements in both forest management and the timber industry. Increased demand for Certified & Verified Legal wood products can make a positive difference in tropical forestry and sustainability of the timber industry in Sarawak, by pushing the forest industry to become more transparent in the traceability of material, as well as in the management of the forests.

Apr 15

Legal Verification Services & Wood Tracking Program

Legal Verification Services & Wood Tracking Program:

Global Forestry Services has revised the Legal Verification Services and Wood Tracking Program to better mitigate risk of unknown & illegal material entering the supply chain through a documented supplier risk assessment and site evaluation systems to verify wood products originate from a legal forest or plantation areas. The Wood Tracking Program is used to assess and monitor a formal Chain of Custody (CoC) system for manufacturers and trading companies to track the raw material used in wood products to a verified legal forest or plantation area. Legal Verification Service (LVS) provides for field evaluation of legal compliance for raw material that comes from forests or plantation areas that are considered not low risk for legality.

Companies participating in the GFS Wood Tracking Program must have a formal Chain of Custody system to trace material from purchasing through production and sale of wood products.  Purchases of raw material and wood products must be vetted through a formal Risk Assessment that documents Low Risk of all material entering supply chain. The Risk Assessment consists of evaluating Country Level Risk; Species Risk & Operational Risk.  Any material not considered low risk based on the Risk Assessment must undergo site evaluation for legal compliance based on the LVS Standard (LVS-005 v07 Feb 2015) or National / Local Standard for Legality. The GFS LVS & WTP is designed to support system for due care for the Lacey Act and due diligence to meet EU timber trade regulations and the Australian Illegal Logging Act.

Sabah Timber Legality Monitoring:

GFS provides monitoring of legal verification of ALL long-term forest management and licensed harvest areas in Sabah, Malaysia based on compliance to the current Sabah Forest Legality Standard for forest operations developed by the Forestry Department Sabah (FDS).  GFS has been operating the FLEGT Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) for forests in Sabah, Malaysia since May 2009 that is planned to continue through 2019 supported by the Sabah Forestry Department and Yayasan Sabah Foundation.  FDS developed the Sabah Legality Standard for forestry operations (current version: Appendix A: Principles 1-4 dated 13 Nov 2013) for field evaluation of compliance as recorded in this document (GFS ref#: G161-001 v01 Nov 2014.

Sabah Timber Legality monitoring includes verification of legality through manufacturing and trade based on Appendix A: Principles 5&6 v02 Nov 2014. GFS conducts annual assessment for all manufacturers and export companies to document compliance to the Sabah Legality Standard for processing and trade.

Philippine Guidebook on Chain of Custody & Compliance Monitoring:

GFS has drafted a Guidebook on that provides a methodology to assist the timber industry to establish a Chain of Custody coupled with a due diligence system for the market, as buyers want a single source of information that is consistent and reliable.  The Guidebook sets out both a framework for the Philippine Industry & Trade to follow in regards to Chain of Custody system in the form of procedures that is integrated with a formal monitoring procedure that can be managed by the timber associations to check implementation by it’s members.   The Guidebook is divided into 3 main parts:

  • Section A: provides the background and structure of the proposed chain of custody and due diligence systems;
  • Sections B-E: identifies in brief detail the critical controls and procedures for Chain of Custody based on Philippine regulations; and
  • Section F: sets out the monitoring procedures used by independent assessors to verify the documentation and implementation by Association Members to support due diligence.

Ghana Wood Tracking System

GFS is part of a consortium lead by Ata Marie to support the Ghana Government – Forestry Commission to develop a Wood Tracking System to meet their commitments in the FLEGT VPA and the EU Timber Regulations.  The Ghana Wood Tracking System was developed as an integrated IT database project to capture forest inventory and tree harvesting data that can be tracked through production and export of finished wood products.  The Wood Tracking System incorporates a verification system that includes both data and field evaluation of compliance with the Ghana Legality Standard. GFS provided the expertise for designing the verification system for the forests; wood processing and trade of wood products being used in the Ghana Wood Tracking System.

Feb 06

Assessment of certification and legal verification schemes for ETTF by Proforest (6 December 2012)

 

The European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) commissioned Proforest to carry out an assessment of certification and legality verification schemes against the new EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). The concept was to evaluate current systems that can meet the EUTR due diligence requirements for legal timber and timber products. In general, the assessment by Proforest for Global Forestry Services Wood Tracking Program (GFS WTP) and Legal Verification Services (LVS) are correct, although there are several errors in the final report as it was published prior to incorporating the comments submitted by GFS as presented below.

GFS would like to summarize the corrections to Proforest findings, as stated below:

Criterion 1.1.3 The standard requires compliance on legal requirements directly related to timber harvesting concerning:  Environment Forest management Biodiversity conservation
Proforest findings Partial Compliance. This criterion is not covered by legal origin. Considered addressed for VLC and TLAS Sabah Standard.
GFS Response GFS recognizes 2 levels of legality VLO (Verified Legal Origin) and VLC (Verified Legal Compliance). The GFS legal Verification Service for VLC is recognized to be in full compliance to EUTR.
Criteria 1.1.5 The standard requires compliance on legal requirements related to trade and customs, in so far as the forest sector is concerned.
Proforest findings Non-Compliance. This criterion is not covered by the requirements of legal origin. Legal requirements related to trade and customs are not addressed beyond forest management level.
GFS Response Proforest only considered the Legal Verification Service that is limited to forest management and operations but did not take into consideration the Wood Tracking Program requirements for the Chain of Custody (CoC). The GFS Wood Tracking Program (WTP) does capture legality in the wood processing mills and trade companies in document # WTP-005 v07 Sept 2012 under Criteria 7.0

7.0 Legal Requirements. The organization shall have adequate knowledge and demonstrate compliance to relevant regulations for its activities and operations.

7.1) The organization shall maintain a register of all relevant governmental regulatory requirements such as health and safety, labour requirements and environmental emissions in respect to their operations.

7.1.1) The organization shall be legally registered and maintain permits for operations.

7.1.2) The organization shall have list and access to all relevant governmental regulatory requirements.

7.1.3) Records of regulations and permits shall be maintained up to date.

7.2 The organization shall demonstrate compliance with all relevant governmental regulatory requirements.

7.2.1) The organization shall demonstrate compliance to regulations.

Criterion 1.2.1 International schemes or scheme operate in more than one country must have a system in place to ensure that forest standard on legal compliance set out in criteria 1.1.1 – 1.1.5 are defined at national level.
Proforest findings Partial Compliance. Not fully addressed as the system does not ensure that all criteria 1.1.1-1.1.5 are defined at national level. Addressed where TLAS Sabah Standard is used.
GFS Response GFS VLC does capture the requirements of National and local regulations that is inherent in the LVS 005 Criteria 4.0-6.0. Again Criterion 1.1.5 is captured under the WTP Criterion 7.0 as stated previously.
Criteria 3.1 Certification/verification must be undertaken by a body which is accredited to evaluate against forest management standard that covers the legality requirements set out in criteria 1.1.1 – 1.1.5 above.
Criteria 3.2 Certification/verification must be undertaken by a body whose organisation, systems and procedures conform to ISO Guide 170653 or ISO/IEC 17021:2011, or publicly available equivalent.
Proforest findings Non-Compliance. No requirement for certification body to be accredited to evaluate against forest management standards, including the legality requirements set out in criteria 1.1.1-1.1.5.
GFS Response Criteria 3.1 & 3.2 are essentially identical. GFS is not an accredited certification body but does operate according to ISO systems and standards. There is no current accreditation system for legality, all companies that issue a statement or certificate of compliance that is actually against the company’s reputation not directly under a regulated accreditation system. Thus the finding against GFS as a third party verification should be partial compliance as the company has formal systems and was found to comply to 1.1.1 – 1.1.4.
Criteria 4.1 Assessment of Chain of Custody must be undertaken by a certification body, which is accredited to evaluate CoC standard.
Criteria 4.2 Assessment of Chain of Custody must be undertaken by a certification body operating in accordance with ISO Guide 65 or ISO/IEC 17021:2006 or publicly available equivalent.
Proforest findings Non-Compliance. No requirement for certification body to be accredited to evaluate against forest management standards including the legality requirements set out in criteria 1.1.1-1.1.5.
GFS Response Again, Criteria 4.1 & 4.2 are essentially identical to 3.1 & 3.2 but are now used for Chain of Custody systems. GFS is not an accredited certification body but does operate under formalized procedures according to ISO systems and standards. GFS is now collaborating with Bureau Veritas to address the issue of accreditation under their Due Diligence System (DDS).
Criterion 4.4 If mixing of certified/verified and uncertified/unverified material in a product or product line is allowed, the uncertified/unverified material must be covered by a verifiable system which is designed to ensure that it complies with legality requirements set out in criteria 1.1.1 – 1.1.5 above.
Proforest findings Partial Compliance. Not compliant for VLO, but addressed for VLC, where other 3rd party schemes used deliver compliance.
GFS Response GFS WTP does NOT permit mixing of non-verified material under the COC requirements. VLC material may be used to make a VLO product. GFS also recognizes other 3rd party verification systems under the WTP as a measure to mitigate risk. The global market cannot afford for verification organizations to exclude other independent assessments and only recognize their own system especially since legality MUST be defined according to local laws and regulations.

Summary:

GFS actually complies to most all the requirements of the EUTR in regards to the Wood Tracking Program coupled with the Legal Verification Service for Verified Legal Compliance.  Global Forestry Services is a technical forestry specialist company that can provide independent verification but is not a Certification Body thus does not comply to Criteria 3.1; 3.2; 4.1 & 4.2 in the Proforest report that references requirements for accreditation.  GFS is currently collaborating with Bureau Veritas on their new Due Diligence System so clients under GFS WTP will have the option of adding certification with Bureau Veritas to fulfill the requirements for accreditation.

In Sabah, Malaysia, GFS conducts monthly field assessments to cover all licensed forest areas as part of the ongoing Sabah Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS). GFS reports compliance to the Sabah Forestry Department and posts summary reports on the GFS website under the client database that is updated monthly. GFS has already conducted field assessments using the EU supported Sabah TLAS requirements for over 15 forest management units with new areas being added each month. Current and future GFS Wood Tracking Program clients especially in Sabah Malaysia that include the BV DDS risk assessment using verified legal compliant (VLC) timber and products will be able to meet the due diligence requirements of the EUTR.

 

Jun 07

Article 1
Global Forestry Services has finally revised its website to provide up to date information on revisions to GFS programs and services. GFS has now established Forestry Investment Services that centers on development of secure long term investments in forest restoration. GFS has a new project developing in Sabah Malaysia (FMU 17A) in conjunction with the Sabah Forestry Department for restoring 12,000 ha of a severely degraded forest with fast growing local species that should yield well over 15% Annual Return on Investment. Investment in restoration is not volatile as in capital and equity markets as the basis of the investment is the value of fast growing trees that continually increases with growth! Growth of pioneer trees in the tropical rain forest is continual throughout the year not like in temperate or boreal forests that have distinct seasons of growth. Growth rates of pioneer species is quick and can easily reach 20-25 m3/ha/year. This project takes a conservative estimate based on real growth data of 16m3/ha/year based on a harvest cycle of 15 years the anticipated yield is 235 m3/ha which is realistic. Timber values are increasing as forests are continually being depleted by conversion to agriculture or other uses and through poor conventional logging practices. It is only common knowledge that timber values will continue to grow as supply becomes more scarce. Please contact GFS to find out more….

Article 2
The FLEGT Timber Legality Assurance System being implemented by GFS in Sabah Malaysia has just expanded to an additional 7 licensed forest management units (FMUs) in 2011 making it a total of 23 active licensed units under verification. The TLAS for Sabah conducts 2 verification assessments per year for each management unit under the program. TLAS standard was based on the requirements listed within the Sustainable Forest Management license Agreements and developed through extensive stakeholder consultation that included 4 workshops. The last workshop was held in May 2011 where the results of the TLAS shown to be very positive with most all units showing significant improvement in compliance and 13 of the 16 units receiving over 90% compliance to the TLAS requirements.

Article 3
The GFS Wood Tracking Program is being revised for submission to timber trade federations in UK and Europe for confirmation as due diligence for FLEGT until signing of the VPA between Malaysia and EU. AS GFS provides field verification of most all the active forest license areas in Sabah Malaysia, participants in the GFS Wood Tracking Program can benefit from using the material within their Chain of Custody system to market timber products as Verified Legal Compliant. Contact us to find out more.

Article 4
GFS is participating in the tendered bid for supporting the VPA in Malaysia to be funded by EU starting in 2012. GFS has extensive experience in the development of the Timber Legality Assurance System currently being used in Sabah and has joined in the bid as part of a European Consortium to continue to support the development of the TLAS for all of Malaysia.