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FSC investigation into birch wood panels in China and Europe

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Assurance Services International (ASI) announce the launch of a new transaction verification (TV) loop on wood panels made out of birch in the larger Eurasian region. The objective of this TV loop is to identify and take action against instances of false claims or other violations of FSC requirements. Source: Timberbiz

The scope of this Eurasia birch wood panels TV loop is: Geographic areas: China and central and eastern European countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine).

Product type: Plywood Species: Birch (Betula)

FSC-certified companies within the scope of this TV loop are required to submit their transaction data for 2023 that carry an FSC claim by 15 June 2024 to their certification bodies. The supply chains investigated in this TV loop include over 700 certificate holders.

Until February 2022, a significant amount of FSC-certified birch was sourced from Russian forest management companies. With FSC’s withdrawal from Russia, chain of custody certificate holders in birch supply chains have had to find other sources of certified timber. With this TV loop, FSC and ASI expect to identify high-risk sources of certified birch for downstream chain of custody certificate holders. If any potential volume mismatches and false claims are identified, then those will be further investigated.

The Eurasia birch wood panels TV loop and the birch plywood TV loop that was launched by ASI in 2023 will complement each other, even though this one has a much wider geographic scope. For this TV loop, FSC and ASI are exploring the possibility of combining transaction verification with two technology-based investigative tools:

FSC Blockchain: This tool will enable FSC to track transactions by certificate holders, thereby identifying instances of potential volume mismatches and false claims.

Wood identification (ID) technologies: This tool will enable FSC to determine species, and compare the isotope profiles of samples collected from certificate holders included within the scope of this TV loop against a reference sample library that is managed by World Forest ID.

In 2022, FSC conducted pilot tests of the previous version of FSC’s blockchain tool in China and Ukraine. The learnings from the pilot tests have enabled FSC to develop a more robust tool that can be used for various purposes, such as strengthening the integrity of certified supply chains, and ensuring compliance with the new European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) requirements.

In February 2024, beta trials of FSC Blockchain were started with participants who registered for the trial phase. FSC plans to launch the FSC Blockchain for all its certificate holders – as a voluntary tool – by mid-2024.