Illegal logging is a global problem with significant negative economic, environmental and social impact.
In economic terms illegal logging results in lost of revenues and other foregone benefits. In environmental terms illegal logging is associated with deforestation, climate change and a loss of biodiversity.
In October 2010 the EU adopted a new Timber Regulation to combat trade in illegally harvested timber. This is one of a number of actions under the 2003 EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT).Similarly other international regulations came into action focusing on combating trade in illegally harvested timber Like Lacey act ,Australian legality act ,Saint Petersburg declaration for Russia , Belgium legality act .
The Main obligation of International Regulations are :
- It prohibits the placing in the International Market of the illegally harvested timber and products derived from such timber .
- It requires traders who are placing their products for the first time in the international market to exercise “Due Diligence “or “Due Care “.
- Keep the records of their suppliers.
The three key elements of the “Due Diligence” or “Due Care”.
- Information : In this the e operator must have must have access to information describing the timber and timber products, country of harvest, quantity, details of the supplier and information on compliance with national legislation.
- Risk Assessment : The Operator should have assess the risk of illegal timber in his supply chain based on the information identified above and taking into account criteria set out in the regulation.
- Risk Mitigation : When the assessment shows that there is a risk of illegal timber in the supply chain that risk can be mitigated by requiring additional information and verification of the supplier .
Once the International regulations came into existence buyers started losing confidence in the Indian wood fiber .No current full proof internationally acceptable mechanism to prove and validate the legality of wood, Lack of an acceptable standard system puts a question mark in the international market on the wood origin, authenticity of documentation and validity and veracity of timber legality documents presently in acceptance. Handicraft industry – first to feel the heat, small artisans may lose their livelihood if clarity not brought about regarding wood legality issues which are beyond their capabilities.
Presently no approved mechanisms –That can comprehensively establish timber legality for EUTR/Lacey Act requirements for handicrafts industry. Handicraft Industry Felt the Need for a timber legality assessment scheme to address these concerns of industry, artisans, buyers and international market There was a need for quick action before India’s competitive advantage is lost out industry experts discussed the matter with industry representatives, subject matter experts and other stakeholders in detail. Industry put forth problems being faced by exporters – sudden drop in export orders, hesitance in fulfilling export commitments, lack of clarity regarding compliance.
Industry heads than ask EPCH for guidance and help – necessity to meet new timber legality requirements to meet customer obligations.
Expert Committee recommends that EPCH should invite global tenders from competent private bodies/companies to develop Standards which can comply with foreign (Demand Side) regulation. viz. EUTR, Lacey Act. etc. To provide a viable solution to help the handicrafts exporters and maintain their source of livelihood, through standard development and verification programme to effectively deal with international timber regulation requirements .
EPCH than initiated VRIKSH to promote the responsible and legal use of wood in the handicrafts and home décor industry, keeping in mind our social and environmental obligations