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Treasury gets gold star for timber procurement whilst Education must try harder.


3 min read Partner content

A report by WWF has found that the Treasury is the best performing department for implementing the governments timber procurement policy designed to help the government avoid purchasing illegally or unsustainably logged timber.

The Department for Education was bottom of the class whilst Defra was in the middle of the 21 central government departments who are meant to follow the mandatory guidelines, despite being home to the unit designed to assist Whitehall in managing responsible procurement. WWF’s report follows the government’s own Greening Government report indicating the government’s performance overall on timber procurement has been in decline.

The aim of the 17 year old Timber Procurement Policy (TPP) is to enable the government to drive responsible purchasing so that it will not have a negative impact on forests and forest-dependent communities around the world.
Overall WWF has found the government must do more to uphold its own policies, with one department, the Northern Ireland Office, unaware there is a policy. The government has huge purchasing power, and it is thought that last year it was responsible for between 30-50% of all office furniture bought in the UK. Many businesses, including Kimberly-Clark, Pearson, Saint Gobain, Willmott Dixon, and BSW Timber are joining WWF in calling on the government to do more and join them in making sure all their timber sourcing is sustainable by 2020.

Beatrix Richards, Head of Corporate Stewardship - Natural Commodities, said;

“The government has huge buying power and influence and, as the self-declared ‘greenest government ever’, it should at the very least implement its own policies. WWF’s report shows implementation is patchy at best and that even basic requirements, like checking that timber products are not purchased from unsustainable or illegal sources, have not yet been adopted by all departments.”

“People will be dismayed to know that it is still legally possible to buy illegally sourced timber in the UK, and that our own government, due to the poor implementation of its policy, may well, be supporting illegal deforestation of some of the last natural forests around the world. The government needs to act decisively and ensure it is using public funds appropriately to support those businesses which are engaging in responsible forest trade.”

Tom Berry, Kimberly Clark Europe, said:

“As businesses like Kimberly Clark continue to ensure  its supply chain is responsible and sustainable, we’d like the government to further support business by utilising its considerable purchasing power and influence to lead the way in responsible timber procurement. Kimberly-Clark would welcome the government taking a lead in this area in order to enable British businesses to purchase timber and wood-based products in viable and sustainable way.“
WWF has concerns that many departments may potentially be supporting the continued trade in illegally-sourced or unsustainable timber and wood products by not checking adequately the supply of their purchased products to confirm they have come from legal and sustainable sources.  WWF believes that there could be even more impact if the wider public sector, such as the NHS, universities and schools, also implemented the government’s procurement policies.

WWF’s current Forest Campaign is calling on the UK government to help close loopholes in EU legislation that allow timber from potentially illegal sources to enter both the UK and EU market, and to put in place measures to drive a market in 100% sustainable timber.

Read the most recent article written by WWF - Make the government machine go green