TPAC Revises Judgement on MTCS

By Stichting Milieukeur - Smk, PRNE
Thursday, October 21, 2010

'S GRAVENHAGE, The Netherlands, October 22, 2010 - Earlier this year, the Timber Procurement Assessment Committee (TPAC)
judged that the Malaysian certification system MTCS meets the Dutch
Procurement Criteria for timber. Five civil society organizations have filed
a notice of objection to this judgement. After careful consideration of this
notice of objection, TPAC has revised its judgement and holds that the MTCS
does not conform to the Dutch criteria. The Dutch State Secretary for
Infrastructure and the Environment, Mr Joop Atsma, will decide whether
MTCS-certified timber will be accepted under the Dutch sustainable
procurement policy.

TPAC notes that the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) has
made vast improvements over the past years, both within its own organization
and in the forty thousand square kilometres of MTCS-certified forest.
Accordingly, the MTCS conforms to most of the Dutch Procurement Criteria. The
main reason for withholding a positive judgement is the overly restrictive
interpretation of the rights of the indigenous communities living in the
MTCS-certified forests. These forests have been used for centuries by the
indigenous peoples of Malaysia - the Orang Asli - for hunting and collecting
food, and are an important part of their culture and identity. TPAC is of the
opinion that this traditional use confers certain rights on the Orang Asli,
such as the right to give permission to log timber and to receive
compensation for logging activities where appropriate.

It has become clear from information provided by the civil society
organizations in question, and in particular from recently published audit
reports, that those Orang Asli rights are not recognized and therefore not
always respected in MTCS-certified forests. Because these audit reports were
published only very recently, TPAC was only able to take this information
into account during the objection procedure.

Another weakness of the MTCS is the conversion of certified natural
forest to other forms of land use, such as rubber plantations and
infrastructure development. TPAC has already called attention to this
conversion problem before. In TPAC's view, the MTCS in its current form
offers insufficient protection against this conversion. To ensure effective
protection, forest areas that have been converted or that are scheduled for
conversion must be placed outside the certified Forest Management Unit (FMU),
and there must be a clear and effective cap on conversion.


The reason for reassessing the MTCS was the notice of objection to TPAC's
judgement on the MTCS, which was filed in April 2010 by Greenpeace,
Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands), Wereld Natuur Fonds (WWF
Netherlands), ICCO (the Dutch Interchurch Organisation for Development
Cooperation) and Nederlands Centrum voor Inheemse Volkeren (Netherlands
Centre for Indigenous Peoples, NCIV). TPAC has carefully considered the
notice of objection and has heard both the civil society organizations and
MTCC at length about the points raised in the notice of objection. TPAC also
held a public hearing in The Hague on 14 September 2010 to hear the parties'
arguments and to obtain answers to some final questions.

The former Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the
Environment has commissioned the Timber Procurement Assessment Committee
(TPAC) to assess whether certification systems for timber meet the
procurement criteria in the context of the Dutch sustainable procurement

For further information please contact Myrthe Haase: +31(0)70-3586300 or mhaase at, or visit our website at

will not be displayed