The Common Legality Framework is a simple checklist that was designed and developed by RAFT partners WWF and TRAFFIC to help governments and companies access and understand relevant laws, regulations and obligations that affect forestry operations, wood and paper processing and trade. When the Common Legality Framework is applied to a specific country, it is known as a National Legality Framework.

The last decade or so has brought good news for those who see illegal logging as a global responsibility and for consumers concerned about their purchasing choices negatively impacting ecosystems and communities on the other side of the world.

A key development has been the introduction of legislation to prohibit trade in illegal wood and paper products in high value markets such as Australia, Europe, and the United States.

These new laws represent a major milestone in international efforts to curb illegal logging by holding importers of wood and paper products in those markets accountable for ensuring compliance with relevant legislation, not just in their own country but along their entire supply chain. Importers that purchase wood or paper products tainted by illegal activity face the possibility of a range of punitive measures—from fines, to seizures, to jail time—no matter where the violation takes place.

These laws have also had a major knock-on effect in the Asia Pacific region.

Not only have suppliers started to realize the need to take action to gain and maintain access to these markets, there is also a growing awareness among buyers of the importance of maintaining healthy forests for the wide range of benefits they provide for the economies, individuals and biodiversity they support.

However, many companies have struggled to understand and demonstrate compliance with relevant laws both at home and internationally.

The Common Legality Framework in a Nutshell

Chen Hin Keong, Timber Trade Program Leader, TRAFFIC


The Common Legality Framework is a simple checklist designed to help governments and companies access and understand relevant laws, regulations and obligations that affect forestry operations, wood and paper processing and trade.

National Legality Frameworks are developed in consultation with a range of forestry stakeholders in each country, including representatives from government, research institutes, the private sector, and NGOs.

“It has been a long time coming to develop the political agenda as well as public awareness that legality is the first step towards sustainability,” says Chen Hin Keong, TRAFFIC’s Timber Trade Programme Leader. “These frameworks are especially important now because of growing interest in this subject both from the general public and at a government level.”

The frameworks support countries’ efforts to combat illegal timber trade in a number of ways.

They can be used to strengthen the design and implementation of national harvest, manufacturing and trade controls in source countries by providing an overview of existing relevant legislation all in one place and helping to identify gaps and shortcomings that should be addressed. This may sound simple

, but with anything from getting the right licenses and paying the required fees for cutting a tree down, to how wood and products are transported, to workplace health and safety, to environmental laws, on the table, this covers a lot of ground.

They also offer guidance to companies on meeting legal requirements and inform the design of targeted capacity building to help businesses understand and adhere to international and national timber legality requirements and as part of a stepwise approach towards certification.

In short, they aim to support the constructive participation of all stakeholders in national processes to map out and verify national timber harvest and trade controls.

“The checklist is very simple. It is easy for companies and other stakeholders to look at the legality options along the supply chain to make sure that all the documentation required is available”, says Hin Keong. The multi-stakeholder consultation process is designed to capture the relevant legislation, procedures and contractual obligations that companies and other stakeholders should be aware of when they need to meet the legal requirements of the country they are operating in.

Learn more about the Principles and Criteria of The Common Legality Framework here.