Why Wood Connect Could Solve Group Chain of Custody Issues

Licensees get full Responsible Wood and PEFC Chain of Custody more affordably than a fully customised chain of custody system.

Wed 04 Oct 23


Consumers demand that the wood products they buy are made from timber that can be traceable to a sustainable and legal source.

With increased scrutiny and attention around ‘conflict timber’, ‘deforestation,’ and ‘greenwashing’, there has never been a more critical time to ensure supply chains are credibly ‘clean and green.’

Now, thanks to a new system called Wood Connect, Australian consumers have the assurance that their timber and forest fibre products are ‘certified and responsible.’

Wood Connect operates Australia’s first nationwide group Chain of Custody System and has grown from ‘Fine Timber Tasmania’, where it has worked well for over a decade.

Long-term Fine Timber Tasmania licensee holders include Britton Timbers, an intergenerational Tasmanian sawmill and veneer producer. (Photo Credit: Supplied)

Chain of Custody is a documented account that tracks the stewardship of products from its journey as a raw material to the end customer.

It is the process of following materials through every step of the supply chain through various stages of sourcing, production, processing, shipping and retail.

Wood Central spoke to Wood Connect’s director, Mark Leech, who said, “The system is proven, simple and rigorous, covering all steps in the wood and forest products supply chain.”

Wood Connect’s system operates under the Responsible Wood Certification System, which is certified against the Australian Standard for Forest and Tree-Based Products (AS 4707) and internationally recognised by PEFC (Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification)

According to Mr Leech, Wood Connect administers “a Group Chain of Custody System, which certification enables the certification of a broad range of businesses under the one certificate.”

“Developed more than 15 years ago, it allows businesses connected in the timber and forest products supply chain to be licenced to use an already certified system where the costs of certification are spread,” Mr Leech said.

“This makes certification more accessible for all,” with all Wood Connect licensees holding Responsible Wood certification, “which is mutually endorsed and internationally recognised by PEFC International, the world’s largest forest certification scheme.”

Examples of licensees include McKay Timber, sawmillers of premium Tasmanian oak and manufacturers of engineered wood products and trusses. (Photo Credit: Tasmanian Timber)

Effectively, licensees to the Wood Connect can get the value of full Responsible Wood and PEFC Chain of Custody Certification, “which can be carried through the supply chain” more affordably than a fully customised Chain of Custody System.

It’s a system that has worked for many years, according to Mr Leech, who said more than 40 Tasmanian businesses have successfully participated in the Fine Timber Tasmania scheme.

“From what we understand, the Wood Connect model is a significant group Chain of Custody Scheme, and we believe we have the right model that can also work nationally,” Mr Leech said.

Mark Leech, director of Wood Connect, fourth from the left, with Fine Timber Tasmania (now Wood Connect) licensee holders and Matt de Jongh, Responsible Wood Sustainability Manager, on the far left.

Wood Connect will issue licenses for participants in the scheme “and will charge a one-off application fee followed by an annual fee based on a scale that covers the ongoing running costs of the scheme,” according to Mr Leech.

Wood Central can report that licensees will represent a board cross-section from sawmills, other secondary processors, wholesalers, manufacturers, packaging, and print media to artisans and retail.

“We even have furniture makers, a guitar maker, designer lights, door and window joinery, timber wholesalers,” Mr Leech said.

Licensees can vary in size from small artisans like Mark Gilbert Guitars to businesses that generate AU $30 million in turnover. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

Examples include Mark Gilbert Guitars in Hobart, who uses Wood Connect Chain of Custody Certification to sell guitars into the North American market. Other well-known brands include NSFP Neville Smith Forest Products, Britton Timbers & Veneer and McKay Timber, long-term supporters of Fine Timber Tasmania and Wood Connect.

“If you’ve been struggling with the idea of a Chain of Custody Certification but find it daunting, Wood Connect could be your answer,” Mr Leech said.

“We provide a proven, trusted certified system, manage all external relationships, provide all documentation, train you and undertake annual internal audits.”

More information, including contact details, can be found on the Wood Connect website.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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