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Finnish Forest Industries Federation and WWF to Co-operate for Legal Sourcing of Wood
Helsinki, Finland, 20 June 2006 -- World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Russia, WWF Finland, and the Finnish Forest Industries Federation (FFIF) have agreed on a joint statement on legal sourcing of wood.

WWF and FFIF share a joint view on the ultimate goal of legal and sustainable forest management, recognize illegal loggings as a mutual concern worldwide, and share a vision of international timber trade with wood procured from legal and sustainable sources only.

WWF acknowledges wood tracking systems as one of the most efficient tools to support the legal sourcing of wood. The Finnish forest industry commits to contribute in further development of the existing tracing systems in local participatory processes and international dialogue to better identify and exclude different kind of illegalities and to increase the transparency of the systems. WWF and FFIF have also decided to establish a working group to further develop wood tracking systems.

In their joint statement WWF and FFIF also want to encourage the other actors in timber industry, forest management and other sectors of the society to
* join the development work and exchange lessons learned in the use of tools that promote legal wood procurement, and
* urge governments to keep illegal logging as a focus area.

In the joint statement, FFIF and WWF commit themselves to participate and support both public and private efforts to combat illegal logging and timber trade.

"Illegal logging is a major threat to sustainable use of forests world wide, especially in countries with poor governance and law enforcement. WWF and FFIF call on all players worldwide to further strengthen the efforts to combat illegal logging and to promote sustainable use of forest resources", said Timo Tanninen, secreatry general of WWF Finland.

"Both governments and civil society, including private sector, have a key role to play in the process to combat illegal logging and associated trade. Nongovernmental organisations and industry can contribute in combating illegal logging by raising awareness among different stakeholders and through stakeholder dialogue", said Anne Brunila, president of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation (FFIF).

Trustworthy information and appropriate methods are needed to fight illegal logging in Russia. The joint statement put special emphasis on Russia because of the significant imports of timber from Russia to Finland. Estimates of harvested wood of unknown origin in Russia vary from 0.6%-10% to 27%. This has created confusion for the industry and society to deal adequately with the problem.

Since the 1990s, Finnish forest industry companies on their own initiative have been developing methods that aim to ensure the legal origin of wood. Tools to combat illegal logging include company-specific policies and principles, creation of long-term business relations with trustworthy suppliers, forest certification, environmental management systems, wood tracing systems, training, and increasing awareness through stakeholder dialogue.

At the same time, WWF has been developing a number of initiatives at international, national, and regional levels to combat illegal logging by building awareness, analyzing its scale and roots, and identifying key actors in combating illegal logging. WWF has published reports on international timber trade, promoted credible certification, chain-of-custody certification, tracings systems, and model forests as possible tools to eliminate illegal logging.

WWF acknowledges the work done by the Finnish forest industry to combat illegal logging in Russia and recognizes that the tracking systems are considered to be among the most efficient processes currently available. However, WWF believes that the current tracing systems are not sufficient to exclude all kind of illegalities in the forest sector.

WWF and FFIF will establish a working group to further develop wood tracking systems. In addition, the Finnish forest industry commits to contribute in further development of the existing tracing systems in local participatory processes and international dialogue. This approach may serve as a common basis for harmonizing wood tracing systems in the global timber trade.

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