Certification of timber from Russia and Belarus

Update on certification of timber from Russia and Belarus

FSC® and PEFC have made public statements stating their opposition to the conflict in Ukraine.

Both FSC and PEFC have taken the decision to remove all timber originating in Russia or Belarus from certified supply chains until the conflict in Ukraine has ended. This has implications for FSC and PEFC certified companies based there, or who source directly or indirectly from these countries. Both schemes have also prohibited sourcing from conflict zones in Ukraine and FSC Certificate Holders in these zones will be suspended on May 5th. These zones may change from time to time.

PEFC have classified all such timber as “conflict timber.” 

FSC have based their decision upon revised ‘specified risk’ designations for Russia and Belarus which states: “there is a material risk for the overall forest sector in these countries through the revenues it creates for the states to be associated with this violent armed conflict that threatens national and regional security and is linked to military control.” (see FSC FAQs). The decision on Ukraine has also arisen from a revision of risk designations in conflict zones in Ukraine. Furthermore, ASI has decided to temporarily suspend the geographical scope of Russia for all CBs, and, separately, to terminate its FSC oversight activities in Belarus.

Before April 8th 2022, all FSC COC and CW certificates in Russia were suspended or withdrawn. All FSC certificates in Belarus have been terminated. Any timber purchased after that date cannot be treated as certified. Material purchased prior to that date but which has not yet left the supplier in Russia can only be treated as certified if certain FSC requirements are met – see ADVICE-20-011-14 and the FSC FAQ document, or contact Soil Association. FSC FM certificates may continue to be valid, but will not be able to sell material as certified.

All PEFC COC Certificate Holders in Russia and Belarus are not permitted to trade in certified material as of March 2nd 2022. Any material purchased after that date must have its certified status removed from PEFC supply chains. 

Please note that the European Union has passed legislation effective March 2nd prohibiting import of forest products from Belarus, and further legislation effective April 8th doing the same for imports from Russia.

For further information please see the statements below – these are being regularly updated.

For FSC, to date we have issued 113 Chain of Custody certificates and 16 Forest Management certificates in Russia, covering 1,354,621 hectares of forest. We have issued one Chain of Custody certificate in Ukraine which is currently suspended and have one PEFC Chain of Custody certificate in Russia. We have no certificates in Belarus and 2 current certificates with sites in Western Ukraine. We have been in direct contact with all Certificate Holders, both those within Russia and Ukraine, and COC certificate holders outside these countries to notify them of the above.

Soil Association strongly believe in the mission of the forest certification schemes to promote responsible forest management. FSC forest certification in Russia has directly led to the preservation of almost 3.5 million hectares of ecologically valuable intact forest areas and requires certificate holders to take into account the interests of local communities and indigenous peoples in forest management. Soil Association’s own mission of working for climate, nature and health is strongly aligned with the values of the forest certification schemes. 

We join the rest of the world in hoping for a return to peace.

If you have any further questions please contact us.