‘Due Care’, in the context of Lacey, means demonstrating that care was exercised in choosing where to purchase wood products to ensure that they are from legal sources. The verification of the Legal Origin (and Legal Compliance) of forest products has gained particular prominence with the amendments to the US Lacey Act enacted in 2008, as well as the European Union Timber Regulation that came into effect in March 2013.
Through the company’s long-standing relationship with global certifier SGS, RFS Principals gained substantive experience of Legality Verification auditing for both the private sector (major global companies), and in collaboration with Government bodies; a focus on governance, monitoring and enforcement continues to be a driver of RFS’ work with Governmental bodies.
(See the Projects page for more details).
Since 2013, assisting private-sector clients to demonstrate the exercise of Due Care (a term used especially for Lacey compliance) has become an increasing focus of RFS’ Consulting practice, and a key element in the company’s activities regarding Risk Management. RFS has developed its own in-house methodology, the Supply Chain Traceability Audit (SCTA), a tool that has been put at the disposal of major wood product companies amongst our client base.
RFS has undertaken extensive supplier audits in North America, South America, and Europe, on behalf of its clients, including every step in the value chain, from the forest floor through to secondary processing and manufacturing, including CARB compliance (for confidential clients).
One key component of RFS’ SCTA tool is its focus on ‘proving’ traceability from the stump; this is a degree of control that (at this stage) is still beyond many forestry companies, yet is increasingly important in order to clearly show Due Care in action. In effect, producers in tropical regions today are being required to have an effective means of linking logs to the stump they came from – and this is increasingly a legal requirement, or imminently being brought in as such by the authorities.
Identifying how the paper trail for wood products and physical traceability align (or how linkages can be made) is a huge value-add RFS’ services provide to our clients, particularly in ‘high-risk’ jurisdictions, or those that are under scrutiny by civil society organizations and enforcement agencies.