Yayasan Sabah Group has obtained the very first Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) statement ever issued by the Rainforest Alliance to a Forest Management Enterprise.
The verification covers almost 190,000 hectares of tropical forest in the Malaysian state of Sabah, home to a large number of precious hardwood species. Yayasan Sabah is a major forest manager in Sabah, managing nearly 1 million hectares of forest in total.
Safe play with Verified Legal Compliance
"Yayasan Sabah is pioneering a wider perspective on the issue of legal wood, which is in line with the approach taken by the world's strictest law on illegal wood products trade, the US Lacey Act. With this move, a number of tropical tree species are now available for purchase with a verification statement that effectively reduces the risk of illegality in a wider sense", says Christian Sloth, Manager of the Rainforest Alliance's Legality Verification Program.
"Our Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC) goes further than just looking at the act of logging per se; it also looks into compliance with laws on for example environmental protection and regulations pertaining to workers' conditions. It is a more comprehensive process than our more basic Verification of Legal Origin (VLO) program, which Yayasan Sabah followed until they decided to embark on this next step. Companies concerned with potential non- compliance with the strict requirements of the Lacey Act are going to demand this sort of verification to reduce the risk of illegal wood entering into their supply chain".
Sloth adds: "If you wish to play it safe as a trader of wood products and cannot obtain them as FSC-certified, then VLC is a very good choice. In addition to avoiding a host of serious problems caused by illegal logging, you are even supporting the FSC system by buying VLC-timber. Operations who enroll in our legality verification program are required to move further towards FSC certification over time”.
Pull from Carl Ronnow and DLH
Through the Malaysia-based subsidiary Carl Ronnow, the DLH group has played a major role in the decision by Yayasan Sabah to go for VLC verification. DLH, the world's largest trader in tropical wood, is working with its suppliers under its Good Supplier Program encouraging suppliers to obtain full verification of legality from an independent third party or to aim for full certification in accordance with an international acknowledged certification scheme.
Based on DLH’s involvement in the Rainforest Alliance’s VLO program, the Rainforest Alliance has for several years been working indirectly with DLH’s suppliers of VLO wood, including Yayasan Sabah. Carl Ronnow has already moved into the VLC verification stage and is thus ready to buy and forward VLC-verified timber from Yayasan Sabah.
‘’A number of years ago we realized the growing importance of accountability, with regard to standards of forest management, needed in the market place. As a non forest owner in Malaysia we needed a vehicle that we could use to encourage our forest owner suppliers to move towards FSC certification without it appearing too daunting a prospect for them’’ says Dick Anning, Environmental Manager for Carl Ronnow Malaysia.
Market benefits while moving towards FSC certification
‘’The program of legality verification systems offered by the Rainforest Alliance fitted the bill as they enable a forest resource owner to work towards certification in a structured stepwise manner whilst also being able to make claims against recognized and credible standards, i.e. VLO and VLC, along the way", Anning continues.
"This has now taken on an added importance in Sabah as the Sabah Forestry Department require all Forest Management Units (FMU’s) to be fully certified by 2014. This is why we have worked very closely with Yayasan Sabah to help them achieve the goal of being the first forest management enterprise to attain VLC status and wish to congratulate them on this achievement”.
“We, in turn, are now able to offer both VLO and VLC products endorsed by legality verification systems that are widely recognized as both stringent and credible and which meet the strict requirements of legislation such as the US Lacey Act, as well as those required by the Dutch Keurhout – Legal standard .’’
Currently almost 20 operations and companies worldwide are verified to the Rainforest Alliance VLO standard, and in addition to Yayasan Sabah several are now embarking on the VLC step. VLC-verified timber is generally acknowledged as one of the market’s best tools for legality verification, and is one of the first legal compliance systems recognized by the Keurhout Legal system.
Read more about the experiences of DLH to gain VLO and VLC verification
Read more about the Rainforest Alliance’s program for timber legality verification
Recognition for the VLC scheme by the Danish government (8/6 2010)
First discussions on a global framework for timber legality verification (17/2 2010)
Ban on illegal timber in EU - pros and cons (17/2 2010)
Is it legal? New Rainforest Alliance tools offer enhanced assurance for wood products (9/2 2010)