Invasion sees Russian, Belarusian timber stripped of sustainable certification

Forests around Mount Otkliknoy Greben in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia (Евгений774/CC BY-SA 4.0)
Developers seeking certified sustainable timber for their projects may need to bypass Russia and Belarus after two major bodies withdrew certification following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Both PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) have suspended certification of timber from the two countries.

PEFC ruled that all timber originating from them is “conflict timber” and therefore cannot be used in PEFC-certified products, while the FSC suspended all trading certificates and will block all controlled wood sourcing from the two countries until the invasion ends.

Timber is a major export for Russia valued at $13.9bn last year, with the EU a major market, said environmental justice organisation Fern.

It warned that proceeds from the sale of timber could be used to pay for the invasion and called on the EU and other governments to ban all types of Russian timber and wood products.

“We must act against aggression,” said FSC director general Kim Carstensen, adding, “at the same time, we must fulfil our mission of protecting forests. We believe that stopping all trade in FSC-certified and controlled materials, and at the same time maintaining the option of managing forests according to FSC standards, fulfils both these needs.”

FSC said it would allow Russian certificate holders to keep their FSC certification of forest management in order to protect Russian forests, but it would not allow trade in FSC-certified timber.

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