Advanced Timber Knowledge


EUTR vs FSC® vs PEFC:  Which is best?

Timber Certification Regulations

When navigating the complex world of timber regulations, it’s crucial to understand the differences between various regulatory bodies. In this article, we’ll discuss three well-known organizations: EUTR (European Union Timber Regulations), FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®), and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

EUTR (European Union Timber Regulations) Overview

EUTR is a mandatory regulatory framework aimed at combating illegal timber harvesting. It prohibits any involvement in the timber and timber-related product supply chain within EU member states if illegally harvested timber is detected. Violators face penalties.

For UK-based readers post-Brexit, the existing EUTR regulations have been integrated into UK law as UKTR (UK Timber Regulations).

It’s important to note that the definition of ‘illegally harvested’ timber is determined by the laws of the timber’s country of origin, which may lead to variations in compliance standards.


FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) Overview

Unlike EUTR, FSC® is not a set of regulations but an independent, nonprofit organization established in 1993. Its mission is to promote environmentally and socially responsible forestry management. Timber carrying the FSC® logo indicates compliance with FSC® requirements. Certification by FSC® is voluntary, and organizations must undergo auditing by an FSC® accredited certification body.

Traditionally, FSC® is considered the “gold standard” for responsible forestry management.


PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) Overview

PEFC, founded in 1999, is similar to FSC® in being a nongovernmental organization with voluntary certification rather than regulatory authority. It’s recognized as the world’s second-largest certification program after FSC®.

At the forest management level, PEFC serves as an umbrella organization, endorsing national forest certification systems. However, at the Chain of Custody (organizational auditing) level, it functions similarly to FSC®.


Comparison of EUTR, FSC®, and PEFC


  • Has the authority to enforce compliance with its regulations.
  • Has the potential to make a significant impact on forest sustainability as compliance is mandatory for all timber in the EU.


  • Compliance depends on the laws of the timber’s country of origin, leading to variations in standards.
  • Enforcement across EU member states can be inconsistent, as it requires incorporation into national legislation.


FSC® Pros

  • Widely recognized and considered the “gold standard” for responsible forestry.
  • Prioritizes forest and community well-being over logging companies’ profits.
  • Strong protection for Indigenous Peoples (IP) through Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) requirements.

FSC® Cons

  • Obtaining and maintaining FSC® certification is costly, which can exclude many small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Some controversies and concerns have arisen regarding standards and certification processes.



  • Generally considered more friendly to small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Establishing group certification schemes and online tools to ease the certification process.


  • Faces allegations of “greenwashing” questionable logging companies.
  • Leaves Indigenous People open to potential mistreatment due to weaker consultation requirements.
  • Regulations are criticized as weak and open to interpretation, potentially allowing deforestation.



Rather than viewing these strategies as competitive, it’s essential to see them as complementary. Ideally, a company dealing with timber should have access to EUTR-required documentation, FSC®, and PEFC certifications. While both FSC® and PEFC provide assurances of sustainable sourcing, FSC® standards are generally more rigorous and of a higher standard.

Ultimately, the goal is to combat deforestation and promote sustainable forest management. Any effort in this direction should be applauded and supported fully.



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