Assesment of MTCC Scheme by UK Goverment

MTCC has taken note of the News Release dated 9 November 2004 issued by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) concerning the announcement by the Environment Minister Elliot Morley of a report on the assessment of five forest certification schemes, including the MTCC scheme, as part of the UK Government’s efforts to buy legally harvested timber from sustainably managed forests.

The report commissioned by the UK Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) concluded that the certificate issued by MTCC should be accepted as an assurance of legally harvested timber.  However, in the view of the CPET, the MTCC in its current form is not completely acceptable as an assurance of sustainable timber as defined in the UK Government’s model contract specification.

As the only timber certification scheme from a developing and tropical timber producing country that was assessed by the CPET, MTCC welcomes the conclusion of the report that its scheme provides the assurance of legally harvested timber.  MTCC is however disappointed that its scheme is considered as not providing adequate assurance towards fulfilling the UK government’s requirements for sustainable timber at this juncture, due mainly to the perception by the CPET that there is inadequate involvement of all the relevant stakeholders in the standard setting process.

MTCC disagrees that there was inadequate involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, since the multi-stakeholder consultations coordinated by MTCC to develop the forest management standards have been open, transparent and participatory processes in which all the relevant stakeholders in Malaysia were invited.  These regional and national-level consultations involved representatives of all the stakeholder groups.

The MTCC scheme is being implemented using a phased approach which involves the use of different forest management standards in the two phases.

The standard currently used is the Malaysian Criteria, Indicators, Activities and Standards of Performance for Forest Management Certification [MC&I(2001)], which is based on the 1998 International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of Natural Tropical Forests.  The MC&I(2001) contains the key elements for sustainable forest management covering economic, social and environmental aspects such as the enabling conditions for sustainable forest management, forest resource security, flow of forest produce, biological diversity, soil and water, and economic, social and cultural aspects.

For the next phase of its scheme beginning 2005, MTCC will use a new standard, the Malaysian Criteria and Indicators for Forest Management Certification [MC&I(2002)], which has been developed using the Principles and Criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as the framework.  The Verifiers contained in the MC&I(2002) reflect the requirements necessary to address the social, environmental and economic dimensions pertaining to sustainable forest management.

MTCC will work closely with DEFRA and the CPET during the six-month period to seek further clarification and provide additional information on specific issues as well as make further progress in implementing its phased approach.  MTCC is optimistic that through such means, its scheme will be accepted as providing an assurance of both legal and sustainable timber by the UK government.