94 % of Russian companies which supply timber to EU are aware of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), but 46% do not know any details about its requirements. Only one third of the companies have been approached by their European counterparts for additional information for timber legality and every third company is not going to introduce any of due diligence system procedures, shows the survey carried out by the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) East Countries Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) II Program funded by EU.
The methodology for the research was developed by WWF-Russia in partnership with the Levada Analytical Center and NEPCon (a monitoring organization). The survey which was started in October and finished in December of 2014, covered top managers of 100 Russian logging, timber processing and trade companies supplying timber, either directly or through supply chains, to the EU markets. The geography of the survey is 13 regions of Russia and stretches from Arkhangelsk to the Russian Far East. The business managers were asked to answer 40 questions on the EU Timber Regulation enforced in March 2013.
The survey shows that even though the overwhelming majority of the Russian forestry businesses (94%) seem to be aware of the EUTR, only approximately half of them (47%) appears to have some knowledge of its details, and only 45% of the EU timber market suppliers claimed the updated EU legislation may potentially affect their activity. The results obtained are indicative of nearly half of the respondents being hesitant to even plan any effort to enhance their timber legality compliance.
The survey also showed that after more than eighteen months since the EUTR came into force, its effect on the practical side of timber legality is still not profound. Only a third of the Russian export-oriented companies claimed they were requested by their partners in Europe to provide additional details of the legality of origin of their timber. Only 40% of the businesses which are aware about details of the Regulation were found to have implemented the required legality verification procedures.
EU companies holding FSC CoC certificates pay more attention to timber legality and introduce additional requirements for their Russian suppliers. 32% of Russian FSC certified respondents reported on additional requirements set by their EU counterparts compared to 5% of not certified companies. 29% of FSC certified Russian companies which participated in the survey reported that EU operators introduced additional field legality checks, and only compared to 14% of not certified respondent which are facing same requirements.
While 48% of the respondents presume the EUTR would only mean more paperwork to them, 42% of timber exporters are sure the new law would neither help improve legality nor contribute to the combating of illegal logging while 13% of respondents openly admit they are not sure in legality of timber they sell. The situation is even worse in the Russian Far East – only 1/3 of the respondents are sure that the product they sell to the EU market are completely legal.
Yet, as WWF believes, there is hope of things improving, as approximately one fourth of the respondents claimed they need more information on the EUTR and are ready to take training and update themselves by reading relevant publications. This means there are a lot of businesses that are willing to commit to the EUTR, and the civil society organizations in place may serve the source of information on the updates to EU regulations.
“Generally, the survey shows that even though the businesses appear quite aware of EUTR, there is a huge gap in their interpretation of the essence of the updated regulations seeking combating illegal logging and of how they should be implemented”, said Nikolay Shmatkov, WWF-Russia’s Forest Program Head as well as FLEG II Program Country Coordinator. “Based on the survey outcomes, the Russian forestry businesses and EU operators working with them should be provided with more information support as a way to help them adjust their operations to the new EU context and to start implementing the due diligence systems applicable to timber origin legality verification” Added Mr. Shmatkov.
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