Dutch acceptance of MTCC certified timber in doubt
By Hilde Stroot
2007-05-16 | Amsterdam/Utrecht 20 April 2007 -- Greenpeace is relieved that laundering illegal timber has become less easy from today. The Board of Appeal of Keurhout ruled today that Keurhout wrongly approved a MTCC certificate as guarantee for legality. This ruling was given in a process instituted by Greenpeace, knowing that timber from Malaysia may have been logged illegally.
Keurhout is a testing institution which has been created by the Dutch Association of Timber Companies (VVNH) in order to verify international certificates relating to legality or sustainability.
Keurhout has now been ordered to immediately withdraw the wrongly awarded Keurhout Legal certificate.
The ruling means that Keurhout wrongly allowed the timber to enter the Dutch market as legal. Research by Greenpeace from 2005 showed that the MTCC certificate by no mean offers a guarantee for genuinely legal felling.
Hilde Stroot, forests campaigner at Greenpeace explains: "The decision by the Board of Appeal confirms our own conclusions. It means that MTCC as well as Keurhout will have to review their principles and procedures."
Other certificates issued under the Malaysian MTCC certification system had recently been approved by Keurhout. Timber destined for the Dutch market can be recognised by its 'Keurhout Legal' logo.
Greenpeace has long been of the opinion that Keurhout should review its procedures for approval. Keurhout is insufficiently transparent about the way in which its decisions are made, as the Board of Appeal now also confirms. Essential information Greenpeace required to verify the legality of the Keurhout decision was held back.
"A decision in a backroom is completely inadequate for a system which promises guarantee that timber is genuinely of legal origin," concludes Stroot.
The MTCC certification system does not guarantee that only legal timber is admitted. Illegal timber can be added at various points in the supply chain and still receive the MTCC certificate.
The Ministry of Housing, Social Planning and the Environment should also draw conclusions from the ruling. Last year the ministry announced that it wanted to recognise MTCC as proof of legality. Stroot queries: "Now that it has been revealed as a phantom certificate, surely our government can no longer accept this system?"
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