EUTR and legal aspects
In Europe, any wood or wood-based products placed on the market are subject to the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which came into force on 3 March 2013. This regulation bans the sale of timber and derived products stemming from illegal harvests.
Consequently, European firms are required to provide proof (the « Due Diligence » procedure) of the legality of the wood they market and to develop a foolproof traceability system. These obligations are applicable to all types of wood and wood-based products, irrespective of their origin (local or imported).
France’s forests provide plywood manufacturers with abundant and constantly replenished resources, be it softwood (namely, maritime pine) or hardwood (namely, poplar, which was the first species to be peeled).The vast majority of both maritime pine and poplar comes from eco-certified plantations, which ensures that forests are managed sustainably.
Furthermore, transportation between these plantations and processing sites is reduced to a minimum, because factories are located near their primary resource, so as to better control the supply chain (they are usually located in the same region, namely, Aquitaine or Poitou-Charentes).
In addition to local species, French manufacturers use an exotic species known as okoume, the majority of which comes from Gabon. This species, which is particularly well suited to the manufacture of plywood, accounts for a quarter of Gabon’s forest resources (estimated at 22 million hectares). This resource is self-regenerating, which goes hand in hand with its sustainable exploitation. These activities are subject to extremely strict rules that have set a precedent for the sustainable management of forest resources. One short sentence sums up this stringent management rationale: one tree removed per hectare of land every 20 years.
- Eco-certified forests: checks are conducted to guarantee that Gabon’s forests are managed sustainably and renewed.
- Tree growers operate in accordance with the Sustainable Forest Management Concession (CFAD) programme. This guarantees that forests are exploited in an environmentally-friendly manner and demonstrates that Gabon possesses strong social and economic ethics that benefit the country.