A Favorite Legality Resource

Last week I referenced a new FLEGT resource and that made me realize I’ve never highlighted one of my favorite resources: NEPcon. NEPCon (Nature Economy and People Connected) was created in 1994 and provides sourcing info not just for timber, but also for beef, soy and palm oil. But let’s look at the timber sourcing hub that provides risk ratings and resources for over 70 countries.

The information starts with a quick rank level and while the US scores high, it is not one of the 16 countries listed at 100. People might have guessed that Canada, France and Germany would all be ranked at the top, but how about some of these others that rank higher than the United States:

The page will then provide information on timber sources, the rules and regulations governing harvest and trade, other risk rankings (like those from FSC), info on the corruption ratings, certification programs, etc. It’s a good place to go to learn where you might need to focus your energies in your own due diligence program.

Remember nothing is an absolute and you need to use the information available to make your own assessment of your own supply chain. Just because a country ranks high or low here doesn’t mean your product is automatically legal or illegal. I would draw attention to the disclaimer at the bottom: “The score is based on our assessment of the risk of illegality occurring in 21 areas of law relevant to timber legality. Each indicator that is deemed low risk gets one point, each indicator that is not low risk gets no point. We exclude the indicator(s) which are not applicable from the calculation. The countries are not ranked because the scores do not enable comparison of countries because we identify whether particular laws are at risk of being broken; we do not measure the volume of timber affected by that risk.”

Flip through the site—there’s a lot there, including training modules and an extensive library of case studies and other resources.

Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only. Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.

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