Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary letter to the Clerk of the Committee from Mr Stuart H White, acting Head of Public Affairs, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

  I am writing in response to your letter, dated 24 June 2002, in which you requested more information in response to the statements made by DEFRA that they had "engaged with WWF, Greanpeace and Friend of the Earth, right from the word go . . .". I have spoken to Rachel Hembery, WWF's Forests Policy Officer who deals with WWF's partnership with DEFRA in relation to the purchase of timber from sustainable sources, and she has provided me with the following statement.

  "In August 2000, I emailed my DEFRA contact—Mr Bob Andrew—to offer the assistance of WWF with regard to implementing the new timber procurement policy. Along with other NGO's we made a number of suggestions to DEFRA, eg improving their website so that guidance for timber buyers is clear; identifying the largest construction company working with government to ensure they are aware of the change in policy and identifying a pilot project where independently certified timber can be used, to name but a few. To date, none of the suggestions put forward to DEFRA have been implemented.

  In the last 2 years, I have been in contact with Mr Andrew regularly. WWF have commented on the study they have contracted ERM to complete in order to identify what a credible forest certification scheme is and Mr Andrew has been trying to find a suitable pilot project.

  It was not until April 2002 that I was contacted by Mr Roger Hinds, just after the Greenpeace action at the Cabinet Office, in order to attend a meeting in London as finally, a suitable pilot scheme had been found. It transpired that it was not really a suitable pilot project. The reason being that uncertified tropical timber had been specified and cut specifically for this project. Our idea of a pilot project is to find a potential refurbishment or new build that has not already gone against government policy!

  The only official announcement that has been made that WWF are working in partnership with Government was in the PQ [21669] answered by Mr Elliot Morley MP on the 17 December 2001. No one in Government has ever formalised this partnership, although my offer originally made in July 2000 was "warmly welcomed".

  WWF has put a lot of effort into trying to help Government and have not really made much progress. It has been a frustrating time!"

  I hope you find this information useful and please contact me again if you wish to clarify any points raised in the letter.

July 2002

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