MTCC Response To Greenpeace International’s Report Entitled “Missing Links”


The Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) notes with regret yet again another attempt by Greenpeace International to undermine the MTCC timber certification scheme and promote its preferred certification scheme, through the release of a report entitled Missing Links.

It is regretted that the report has been prepared based on information Greenpeace has obtained, and interpreted in a manner to suit its own purpose, including drawing its own conclusions despite the lack of proof.

MTCC nevertheless would like to provide the following information and clarification in response to some issues raised in this report:

Use of Removal Pass

MTCC wishes to clarify that under the Requirements for Chain-of-Custody (RCOC), a supplier of MTCC-certified material has to provide a copy of the valid Certificate for Forest Management or Certificate for Chain-of-Custody, as the case may be.

The MTCC chain-of-custody system recognizes the vital role the Removal Pass (which is a legal document) plays in providing the linkage between the trees in the certified forest from which logs have been harvested, and the logs that are delivered to the first point of processing, such as sawmills and plywood mills. Among the important information that are recorded in the Removal Pass are the harvesting licence number [which identifies the Permanent Reserved Forest (PRF) from which the logs are harvested], name of licence holder, conveyor details (e.g. lorry number), type of forest product, species and sizes. If the PRF is part of a certified Forest Management Unit (FMU), the Removal Pass confirms that the logs harvested are from that particular certified FMU.

In the case of Peninsular Malaysia, the Forestry Department has instituted an effective tree and log tagging system to monitor the movement of harvested logs from tree stump through log transportation (via checking stations) until the first point of processing (sawmill or plywood mill). Hence the involvement of logging contractors does not present any problems as, at the forest checking stations, the details of the logs on the lorry, as shown on the tags, must match the tree tag numbers recorded by the Forestry Department in the Tree Tagging Book (Buku Penandaan Pokok). This will ensure that the logs removed are from trees of the right species and sizes, and are from the right licensed areas. Furthermore, copies of the harvesting licence, which contain details of the licence holders and logging contractors, are available at the forest checking stations for cross-checking purposes. In short, all the documentation and information related to the Removal Pass provide proof of the linkage from the tree stump to the first processing point.

In view of the situation as explained above, MTCC does not see the need to do an audit of the Removal Pass as suggested by the report.

It must be noted that the role and veracity of the Removal Pass has been deemed appropriate to be used to certify forest areas and timber companies under the FSC scheme in Malaysia.

It is also interesting to note that for FSC-certified timber companies that use imported FSC-certified raw materials, we do not hear of Greenpeace insisting that the link between the overseas suppliers and the companies concerned must be audited.

Extending the Chain-of-Custody to the Market

On 3 December 2004, MTCC had circulated a notification on the use of its revised chain-of-custody standard, the Requirements for Chain-of-Custody (RCOC) in which new applicants would be required to comply with the RCOC with effect from 1 March 2005 while for current certificate holders, the deadline is 1 January 2006. Under the RCOC, the chain-of-custody is extended to cover the timber markets. It was envisaged that applications for chain-of-custody certification would be received from overseas-based companies and their application would be assessed by MTCC-registered assessors. However, since the MTCC scheme is voluntary in nature, it is difficult for MTCC to compel especially overseas-based companies to participate in our scheme. It is hoped that the Greenpeace report would help to encourage the overseas-based companies concerned to apply for the MTCC Certificate for Chain-of-Custody.

Victory Enterprise Sdn Bhd. (VESB)

VESB is a company awarded the MTCC Certificate for Chain-of-Custody for finger-jointed laminated core lumber, sawn timber, moulding and S4S (solid wood). In line with its practice, MTCC is in the process of arranging for a surveillance visit to be conducted on VESB and will take appropriate measures based on the results of the surveillance visit.

With regard to the allegation of import of timber from Indonesia by VESB as contained in the Greenpeace report, MTCC has referred this matter to the appropriate authority, i.e. the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) for MTIB’s further action.