Preferred by Nature has introduced a comprehensive timber legality toolkit to help forest owners, timber traders and processors in Vietnam to ensure compliance to the FLEGT-VPA requirements in the country. This is part of the V4MF project’s effort to improve timber legality in Vietnam.
Being one of the world’s top furniture exporters, the Vietnamese timber industry is highly export-oriented. With the EU as one of the major destinations, the Voluntary Partnership Agreement under EU's Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT-VPA) has been one of the key drivers to improve timber legality in the country.
Vietnam has been working on regulations needed to implement the country's timber legality assurance system many years before the FLEGT-VPA was enforced in June 2019. The country imports timber from more than 80 countries for processing and re-export. Over the recent years, domestic plantation timber has been increasingly used in the production of timber products and for the export of woodchip.
Through this new enforcement, FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which prohibits EU operators from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market. However, forest owners, timber traders and processors, particularly small and medium ones, face challenges in fulfilling the technical requirements for assuring the legality of timber used in processing.
According to Ho Van Cu, Preferred by Nature representative in Vietnam, this has been prevalent in the country. "Forest owners and producers in Vietnam find it difficult to provide the full list of documentations to verify the legality of their timber and timber products – mainly due to the complexity of their supply chains," explained Ho.
He added, "There are also a percentage of them that are not fully aware of the exact legal requirements that apply to them. This makes it harder for them to ensure compliance to the FLEGT-VPA."
To support the Vietnamese timber industry in overcoming this challenge, Preferred by Nature has developed a suite of guidance documents and templates that can help affected parties to comply with the FLEGT-VPA requirements in the country.
The timber legality toolkit for Vietnam timber industry was initially developed as part of an EU-funded project in 2014-2017. This was done to support SMEs in Vietnam to fulfill the coming EU FLEGT requirements. At that time, the VPA between Vietnam and EU had not been signed.
With the FLEGT-VPA in Vietnam in place, these tools were revised and adapted to meet these requirements – as a result of the 'Voices for Mekong Forests (V4MF)' project. By using these tools, forest owners, timber traders and processors will be able to develop better understanding of the requirements and ensure their compliance.
Duong Nguyen, an external Preferred by Nature consultant for the V4MF project, shared that, "A significant revision has been done to the guidance materials in these updated versions. Some outdated legal requirements have been removed and new information have been added to align with the current applicable timber laws in the country. With these improvements, the timber legality toolkit is now more comprehensive and consistent with international requirements for timber exportation."
The toolkit is free to use, and enterprises can take and adapt the tools to their business. The tools can form the foundation of businesses purchasing policy, tracking procedures, communication with customers and suppliers, along with guidance and reference material to help enterprises source legal timber. Several timber businesses had also joined the testing of the toolkit to ensure it is user-friendly, functional and effective before the toolkit was finalised.
The toolkit contains 21 items, consisting of informative factsheets, quick checklist guides and ready-to-use templates for chain of custody control and legal compliance. For effectiveness and ease of use for relevant parties, the toolkit is available in both English and Vietnamese.
> Click here to access the Timber Legality Toolkit for Vietnam.
Learn more about the FLEGT-VPA in Vietnam by visiting the EU FLEGT Facility.