Is your timber furniture legal, sustainable, and certified

Australian Furniture Association Research has uncovered that timber is the largest material input in finished furniture across the nation and it is the industry’s responsibility to ensure that it is legal. In the latest WiFM webinar Responsible Wood Sustainability Manager Matt de Jongh provided AFA members with an overview about Responsible Wood, PEFC, forest certification and all things timber legality.

AFA members can use Responsible Wood and / or PEFC ‘Chain of Custody’ to demonstrate that timber, sourced in forests across more than 50 countries, is from a sustainable origin and where properly demonstrated maintains the link across the global import and export markets.

Responsible Wood’s Matt de Jongh provides an overview of forest certification and its importance in meeting social, environmental, and legal requirements.

Watch Interview HERE

‘Forest certification validates the origin of the timber, in the forest, and can be used to demonstrate that timber grown, harvested, processed and manufactured is legal, sustainable and certified.’ ‘Responsible Wood in Australia, PEFC Internationally, forest certification is carried by more than 90% of timber from Australian forests, much of this ends up in Australian furniture through a ‘chain of custody’ process,’ Mr de Jongh said.

So what are some of the key terms that AFA members should know?

  • Chain of Custody’ links the origin of the wood to the final product. It provides AFA members with documented evidence that timber or forest-based products are sourced from sustainably managed forests, and if properly understood, can be used by AFA members to demonstrate the required mandatory compliance with the Australian Illegal Prohibition Acts and Regulations. Visit to learn more
  • ‘Certified Sources’ is traced back to the origin. In order to demonstrate ‘Chain of Custody’ timber must be sourced from a forest that has a Sustainable Forest Management certification scheme. Forests that have Sustainable Forest Management certification can provide assurances that the forest is managed responsibly. Visit to learn more
  • ‘The Formal Claims Process’ provides the legally required documented evidence that timber-products imported or exported by AFA members meet the obligations as outlined under legislation. Visit to learn more

AFA members should look out for a ‘Chain of Custody’ claim on the timber products invoice. Below is an example of a compliant Chain of Custody claim for reference.
“x% PEFC certified” or “x% RW/PEFC certified”

Also of note, recently Responsible Wood has been recognised for having a positive environmental impact through the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) new Responsible Products Framework. Responsible Wood was assessed as ‘Best Practice’ and ‘Good Practice’ across four credit categories – Responsible Structure, Responsible Envelope, Responsible Finishes and Responsible Systems. The new framework, which provides guidance for all building materials used in Green Star projects and will apply to all new Green Star Rating Tools published by the GBCA.

If you have any questions about the claims process, we have a dedicated team that can work with AFA members to discuss technical elements of the claims process or visit to learn more.

In 2012 the Australian Government introduced the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act and Regulations – the first of its kind – putting timber legality at the forefront of AFA members consideration. In response the AFA has the Timber Due Diligence Toolkit which can be downloaded from the AFA website.

Speaking about the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act and Regulations, Matt de Jongh said ‘The Act defines Illegal logging to be ‘the harvesting of timber in contravention of the laws of the country where the timber is harvested. If the timber is from a certified source and is part of a formal claims process, be it Responsible Wood, PEFC or otherwise, by its nature, the timber must be harvested in compliance with the laws of its origin.’

‘That in itself is the basis of how forest certification works. To demonstrate and verify the source of the timber and ensure that the legality of the timber is maintained through a ‘Chain of Custody’ process. The penalties for non-compliance are very high.’

In October 2021, the Australian Government released the ‘Sustainable Procurement Guide’ which lists a number of ecolabels, standards and product stewardship schemes which may be called up in Commonwealth Government projects.

Responsible Wood was one of a number of schemes which have been recognised in this guideline which is available for download from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Waste –

In addition to the webinar, AFA members have the opportunity to watch a bonus AFA interview with Matt de Jongh below.


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WiFM delivers informative networking, training and upskilling events which are relevant and meaningful to practitioners and business professionals across the furnishing industry supply chain sectors.