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Holzindustrie Schweighofer: Update regarding timber imports from Ukraine

  • New questionnaire by the NGO “Earthsight” transparently answered, answers publically available
  • Business engagement within the framework of all laws and regulations
  • Going beyond the law: Strict company guidelines for the entire value chain
  • Ukrainian suppliers under constant examination – zero tolerance policy in case of irregularities
  • All 12 EUTR checks to date without complaints against Holzindustrie Schweighofer
  • Constant improvement of security architecture – NGO input welcome

Holzindustrie Schweighofer, one of Europe’s leading wood processing companies, operating three sawmills and two panel mills in Romania and one sawmill in Germany, wishes to give an update on its wood imports from Ukraine. This update is published on the occasion of a questionnaire sent to the company by the British NGO Earthsight requesting a reply by 28 February 2019. Holzindustrie Schweighofer has answered these questions transparently and has published them on its website for the general public.

The company wishes to transparently explain the measures it has in place to ensure that wood imports from Ukraine are only carried out within the framework of all laws and regulations. Additionally, Holzindustrie Schweighofer takes this opportunity to reiterate the regulatory framework conditions for wood imports from Ukraine.

Timeframe and legal framework
With the coming into effect of the Ukrainian export moratorium on spruce and fir saw log exports, Holzindustrie Schweighofer ceased its corresponding activities in November 2015. When the export moratorium on pine saw logs from Ukraine came into effect in December 2016, the company also ceased to import these products. Currently, Holzindustrie Schweighofer purchases only coniferous sawn timber from 18 suppliers in Ukraine.

Strict Due Diligence, Dialogue and Continuous Improvement
It is Holzindustrie Schweighofer’s fundamental principle to adhere to all applicable rules and regulations in all its engagements. The company applies a strict control system designed to comply with the requirements of the EUTR (European Timber Regulation) to all its timber purchases. Among other aspects, the EUTR regulates the due diligence to be applied by market participants when they place timber and timber products on the European Single Market for the first time. They are obligated to prove that the timber originates from legal harvests.

12 EUTR controls without complaints
Between 2015 and 2019, Holzindustrie Schweighofer was subjected to 12 EUTR (European Timber Regulation) controls, all of which confirmed compliance with all legal due diligence obligations.

Meticulous Monitoring
All in all, 50 Holzindustrie Schweighofer employees (including internal auditors, supply chain experts and purchasers) are involved in examining the sources of all purchased timber. Crucial elements of these examinations are: On-site visits to suppliers and the harvesting locations in the forests, intensive checking of the sustainability certifications and company profiles of the suppliers, and verification of the competent responsibility of the forestry administrations. The overall goal of these measures is to check the entire spectrum of the supply chain prior to starting production. After purchase and during delivery, quality, quantity and the respective delivery documentation are closely monitored. In addition to these checks, all Ukrainian suppliers were externally audited in 2018. None of the suppliers had to be suspended due to irregularities. The company has a strict zero tolerance policy in place and does not pardon any irregularities.

Dialogue with NGOs
In addition, Holzindustrie Schweighofer is committed to maintaining a transparent dialogue with the public. The company is convinced that dialogue – alongside continuous internal audits – offers the best opportunity to optimise its security architecture. This applies in particular to countries with challenging social, political and economic environments.

Clearly Defined Responsibilities
How does Holzindustrie Schweighofer view its responsibility in challenging countries like Ukraine in principle? The following areas of responsibility can be discerned:

  • compliance with the laws of the respective country along with
  • all applicable international laws.
  • The ethical aspiration to establish efficient and transparent control systems going beyond the scope of these laws to monitor and protect the entire supply chain.
  • The ambition to continuously improve our security architecture in constant dialogue with the public.
  • Not to do any business with convicted offenders in the areas of corruption and illegal felling.

If specific problems arise in certain countries (such as Ukraine) that fall within the responsibility of the national authorities and must therefore be addressed by those authorities, and that are not or cannot be recognizable even to a circumspect company like Holzindustrie Schweighofer, then the company cannot assume any responsibility for such problems. Private corporations cannot, should not and must not take over the sovereign functions and duties of countries (like those of the federal prosecution, jurisdiction or executive authorities). To be made responsible for criminal acts allegedly perpetrated in a country when one may in fact be the victim of those criminal acts must be rejected emphatically.

Press release