Post-Brexit, here’s how the UK’s timber industry will stay on track

“While our future relationship with Europe remains uncertain, the EU-UK wide Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) action plan will help safeguard our timber standards”  

With recent news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is proroguing Parliament, our future relationship with the European Union is more uncertain than ever. However, people involved with, or reliant on, the timber trade can take some solace in the fact that its robust quality standards will be safeguarded by FLEGT legislation.

FLEGT stands for the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade action plan. It’s an EU-UK wide initiative that started its life in 2003. It uses voluntary partnership agreements with supplier countries and a licensing scheme to ensure high ethical standards on timber producers. And, while implementation of the scheme has taken a great deal of time, it now looks positioned to help keep Britain’s timber trade supplied with high standard timber in the event we no longer come under European regulatory frameworks.

FLEGT looks to strengthen sustainable and legal forest management, and promote trade in legally produced timber. It provides regulation and governance not just at the forest level, but across whole supplier countries. That’s a big task, but a worthwhile one: FLEGT affects the entire production process, from the ground through the supply chain into trade. The positive impact of this initiative includes greater transparency, focus on individual and community welfare, and unparalleled traceability.

FLEGT is still in its early stages, and while it doesn’t replace certification schemes, it is driving monumental massive country-wide change across the Continent. Perhaps most important at this critical political juncture, FLEGT ensures EUTR (European Union Timber Regulation) compliance. In other words, it’s a great benefit to Britain in the event that we lose access to common market regulation but want to continue trading with Europe.

Right now, FLEGT is still an under-appreciated acronym. In a few months’ time, that might no longer be the case.