Forest policy is at the heart of RFS’ work. From participating in forest policy development, to leading forest governance projects and legal compliance audits, RFS’ Principals have developed an excellent understanding of regulatory frameworks and of complex social and economic factors that influence, and are impacted by, policy. This understanding can be of critical importance in defining the means of promoting conditions which are conducive to sustainable development and responsible forest management.
At the national level, RFS’ Principals have been involved in the development of legislation (Ontario’s Crown Forest Sustainability Act), and in Canada’s National Forest Strategy. Internationally, the focus of RFS’ engagement is to a great extent on timber trade regulations (Lacey Act and EU Timber regulations), and forest governance. RFS has conducted two governance projects in Latin America (in Ecuador and Colombia) that required an in-depth analysis of forest regulations, identification of drivers of illegality/informality in the forest sector, and the formulation of recommendations for the strengthening of forest controls, and improved traceability of wood products. RFS performed these projects under contract to SGS’ Government and Institutional Services’ Division, based in Geneva, through the Forestry Monitoring Program. RFS has also conducted other projects in the region requiring a thorough analysis of the regulatory environment and in particular, the mechanisms for issuing harvesting permits and the controls in place for the transportation of forest products throughout the supply chain. Other relevant activities include RFS’ role as Forest Management and Legal Compliance auditors under a mandatory program (as is the case of Ontario’s Independent Forest Audits) or under voluntary programs such as SGS’ in-house Timber Legality and Traceability Verification Program (TLTV) developed for private clients committed to Due Diligence in sourcing legal wood (leading TLTV audits in Indonesia).
RFS also brings a depth and breadth of understanding of policy aspects to its consulting work and the performance of Due Care assignments, including the assessment of the legal origin and compliance of forest products in a number of jurisdictions in producer countries, notably in the Amazon region.