Timber importers and consumers are increasingly interested in  legal and sustainable supply chains. Yet, outside of forest certification, little information exists on the relative performance of timber producers.

Various tools and resources have been developed by governments, certifying bodies and non-governmental organizations to help buyers and sellers exercise due diligence. However, it is still difficult to obtain data at the company or forest management unit level, preventing full transparency and verification of sustainable practices within the timber industry.

The OTP aims to serve as a one-stop shop for information on timber producers. It seeks to bring transparency to timber operations and improve access to country-specific information about forest management and harvesting, while increasing the effectiveness of regulations on illegal logging. It does so by making  information about on-the-ground management practices and compliance with timber legality requirements public and accessible.

While approaches to improving timber legality vary across countries, one common feature is a mandate on importers to exercise “due diligence” or “due care” in assessing the legality of their timber sources and suppliers. Ensuring due diligence requires credible information at both the company level and at the concession or forest management unit level for importers. As a result, transparency in the forest sector is a fundamental prerequisite for excluding illegal timber from supply chains.

In response to this, WRI and its partners  developed the Open Timber Portal to provide granular and contextual information about forest management on the ground. The platform compiles information from four different sources:

  1. Governments’ official concession boundaries and list of registered timber producers.
  2. Documents uploaded voluntarily by timber producers to demonstrate compliance.
  3. Observations of suspected non-compliance from third-party forest monitors and NGOs.
  4. Annual tree cover loss and weekly alerts on tree cover loss within the boundaries of the concessions.

Additionally, the OTP assesses performance of all timber producers against a standard set of documents and metrics, enabling market differentiation, complementary to certification. The platform currently covers the Congo Basin, but will expand to other regions as resources and opportunities allow.

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Image credit: CIFOR/Flickr