The UK government has a clear procurement policy. Local government is slightly more patchy. Essentially they accept 2 main certification bodies, FSC & PEFC, as proof of Legality & Sustainability (L&S), along with a newer system called FLEGT (at present only for Indonesian goods). You can prove L&S by other means, but it’s incredibly complex.

This is generally known as Chain of Custody (CoC). An audit trail is achieved, through the supply chain, checking that each company complies with the requirements of these organisations. It does not give total traceability; that’s not its purpose. It is purely a verification tool.

However, CoC is a time consuming, cumbersome system and creates all manner of operational issues, mainly because you cannot mix items from different schemes. That separation causes problems.

FORT Builders’ Merchant is looking to have a very simple system whereby it holds its supply chain for ex-stock products to account, seeking confirmation that any items purchased MUST be certified by FSC, PEFC or FLEGT, with a paper trail of proof.

We are investigating a simple annual audit by one of the UK’s largest timber system auditing companies, CATG, to give Fortified a level of credibility.

This low grade certification will not allow Fort to sell in accordance with UK Government policy or where customers as for specific timber certification. However, the amount of times this will occur is expected to be miniscule.

By giving our system a name, Fortified, we can explain to our customers that we want to act responsibly and will always have their environmental back, but at the same time we are doing this pragmatically, to smoothen the systems and ensure there are very low costs attached.