STTC site develops as sustainable tropical timber hub

The Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition has relaunched its website,, developing its role as an information hub on sustainable timber procurement and the benefits it delivers in underpinning sustainable tropical forest management.

The revised STTC site sets out its objectives to increase EU demand for verified sustainable tropical  timber through communicating its technical and environmental benefits, and the environmental and development value of tropical forests. Its goal is also to convince tropical suppliers that there is a long-term viable market for verified sustainable tropical timber, so incentivizing uptake of sustainable forest management.

The website’s Market Data page highlights the STTC’s view that accurate, consistent data on the tropical timber trade is central to informing EU market development. It details its own market reports and analysis. It also provides links to other international and national data sources.

In its Marketing section, the website underlines the importance of stepping up tropical timber communication and promotion in the EU given its perception that it is implicated in deforestation. Key tropical timber marketing resources and tools are listed and linked. These include life cycle analysis studies on tropical timber, manuals on the use of certified timber in construction, and the STTC’s YouTube channel, which features a range of videos on the STTC itself, its partners, and the wider values of sourcing verified sustainable tropical timber. It also links to other sustainable tropical timber marketing initiatives and information resources and websites on the performance and availability of lesser used tropical timber species, relevant regulation and business information.

The site also includes a dedicated page on lesser used tropical species (LUS) which, the STTC says, if used more widely would reduce stress on more popular varieties and make sustainable forest management more economically viable. It links to a number of websites focused on availability and technical performance of LUS and a range of other resources focused on varieties from Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. It lists sources of guidance on marketing LUS and their performance in specific applications.

The Procurement Policies page details how these shape the marketplace for tropical timber and provides a link to the Buying Sustainable Timber Guide for public authorities. The STTC is looking to update and include on the website a database providing guidance, materials, tools and training resources for public authorities on sustainable timber product procurement.

The STTC website additionally features a section on the impacts of using verified sustainable tropical timber in terms of climate change mitigation, the superior life cycle performance of timber products and forest and biodiversity maintenance. It also provides a comprehensive list of resources on the wider social, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable forest management.

“Using verified sustainable tropical timber from sustainably managed forests has numerous, often interrelated benefits,” states the STTC. “These are also increasingly objectively proven and documented.”

The site features also prominently a link to the website of the sustainable tropical timber branding campaign Fair&Precious. The two initiatives earlier this year announced that they would work closely together to achieve their shared aim of growing the EU market for verified sustainable tropical timber. Each committed to leverage the strengths of the other, with the STTC’s focus on market and product data and analysis, Fair & Precious’s emphasis on marketing the environmental, social and economic benefits of sourcing tropical timber from sustainably managed forests.

The STTC will continue to develop the website and welcomes feedback and contributions with regards to resources (promotional tools, data resources, publications, etc.).

STTC conference delivers tropical timber rallying call

A new survey of leading importers’ views on growing the EU market for tropical timber will be unveiled at the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) annual conference in Berlin.

Key findings from the survey, undertaken by forest and timber sustainability analysts and advisors Probos, will be presented and delegates invited to discuss and share their ideas on the issue.

This will be just one focus at the November 20 conference, titled Exploring pathways to verified sustainable tropical Timber.

The background to the event will be continuing contraction in overall use of tropical timber in the European market at a time when there is growing urgency to increase sales of verified sustainable tropical material.

“The whole supply chain has a role, responsibility and interest in reversing this downward trend, and market-wide effort is vital for success,” states the STTC.  “Growth of the EU tropical timber market and the share of verified sustainable timber will incentivise tropical suppliers to introduce sustainable forest management.”

“We need to find ways to improve the business model of certified forest companies and to the best of our ability to make them stronger,” added Benoît Jobbé-Duval managing director of ATIBT, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association, which runs the STTC partner tropical timber branding campaign Fair&Precious.

In the conference session headlined Promoting tropical timber- a new urgency, there will be an overview of verified sustainable tropical timber marketing tools.

A spokesperson from the City of Berlin will also describe its work to promote timber via its procurement process and leading European companies will present their marketing initiatives.

In the session Navigating the journey from the EU Timber Regulation through to verified sustainable, speakers will examine the stepwise approach to sustainability certification, including through building on existing regional and national forest management initiatives,  such as the EU Forest Law, Enforcement Governance and Trade initiative and Verified Sourcing Areas.  There will be presentations on trends in sustainable tropical timber market share and the impact of certification on landscapes.

Following the highly successful tradition of previous STTC Conferences, a significant part of the day will be given over to delegate participation and feedback using the table talks format, led by the popular event moderator Peter Woodward. A wide range of topics will be opened for discussion under the headline themes The sustainable verification journey and Tropical timber promotional imperatives and activities.

Delegates will also have the opportunity to respond to other points made during the day, to sign up to specific commitments and to input into proposals for further actions from the STTC.

The overarching message of the Conference will be the importance of building scale in the verified sustainable tropical timber market to achieve real impact in tropical forest governance and management.

And the day will close on a rousing note, with a ‘call to arms’ for the tropical timber sector, including an address from a leading tropical timber country figure, highlighting the key role of forests, trees and timber to their future development.

The Conference is also the day before the two-day International Hardwood Conference in Berlin, giving delegates the opportunity to attend both. In fact, over refreshments after the STTC conference, there will be an opportunity to network with fellow delegates and participants of the International Hardwood Conference.

The STTC is expecting a capacity audience drawn from across the tropical timber sector, with delegates already signed up from the spectrum of timber businesses, trade federations, the research sector, international agencies, NGOs and government.

To register.


Certified SFM preserves biodiversity

Latest research has shown that certified sustainable forest management, including low impact logging, supports habitat preservation and richness and diversity of wildlife.

The WWF study was conducted in the Peruvian Amazon and the results published in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation journal, which is produced by educational services provider Wiley and the Zoological Society of London.

Researchers evaluated the impact of forest management certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme in Peru’s Tahuamanu Province in the Madre de Dios region.

They found that the sustainably managed area supported greater diversity in a range of species, including amphibians, insects and monkeys, compared to non-certified forest. The species variety was comparable with that in undisturbed forest.

The research team used acoustic technology analysis to gauge the diversity of wildlife in the study region, recording  hundreds of audio samples of birds, insects, amphibians and monkeys in three large industrial concessions. Two were FSC-certified and one non- certified. In total they set up 67 recording sites across the sustainably managed and non-certified logging sites.

They found not just a greater variety, but a greater quantity of animal sounds in the certified forest and both were comparable with what might be expected in un-exploited forest.

“Our findings reinforce conclusions of other studies that certified forests can maintain similar levels of fauna biodiversity to undisturbed primary forest in the Amazon region,” concluded the research team. They added that their work provided important pointers for future biodiversity analysis, with numbers and variety of insects and ‘anurans’ amphibians (toads and frogs) providing most reliable evidence of habitat structure variation.

“The Peruvian project provides further validation for the STTC’s view that uptake of certified sustainable forest management practice supports tropical forest and habitat maintenance,” said Nienke Sleurink of the STTC. “And one way to encourage that is to grow the market for verified sustainable tropical timber from those certified forests.”

The findings also bear out statements of the Fair&Precious campaign that certified forest concessions ensure preservation of wildlife habitat.

“In addition, the communication routes maintained within the forests improve the mobility of large mammals, which has resulted in the repopulation of the various species,” it says.

Workers in the Peruvian FSC-certified forest used reduced impact logging strategies including pre‐harvest inventory, plunge cut, planned skidding and directional felling to reduce collateral damage. The FSC concessions also had lower harvesting intensity in terms of number of trees and timber volume, higher log recovery and they damaged fewer commercial species during felling than non‐FSC concessions.

According to the WWF, timber production takes place in around a third of tropical forest. Poorly conducted logging, it says, can degrade ecosystems and fragment habitats, threatening biodiversity. However, responsibly managed logging can conserve it, as well as providing sustainable  local livelihoods and economic development.

This findings of the latest research complement an earlier study which concluded that densities of large and medium-sized tropical animals in FSC-certified logging areas, including jaguars and pumas, were similar to or even higher than in protected areas.

“This new study shows us that it is possible to combine production forestry with biodiversity conservation if done in the right way and in the right places.” said William Baldwin-Cantello, WWF Forest Practice Lead.





Obstacles in sourcing certified tropical timber

Over 90% of all wood imported by the members of the Netherlands Timber Trade Association (VVNH) is from verified sustainable forest. However the proportion of certified material in their tropical timber imports declined in 2018.

These are among the findings of the annual trade report covering VVNH’s 216 members by forest and timber sustainability analysts and advisors Probos. According to its analysis, 91.9% of the 1.8 million m3 of softwood, hardwood and sheet materials imported by VVNH companies in 2018 was backed with an FSC or PEFC certificate, about the same level as 2017.

The highest proportion of certified imports came in softwood, up from 98.4% in 2017 to 99.1%.

Certified sheet materials showed an increase in the certified total from 93.5% to 94.5%, while certified temperate hardwood imports were up from 46.6% to 59.6%.

But the proportion of certified tropical timber imported into the Netherlands fell from 66.1% in 2017 to 63.6% last year.

VVNH Director Paul van den Heuvel said that there were various factors involved in this decline. “Members earlier reported that it was becoming increasingly difficult to get verified sustainable tropical wood. Now this is also reflected in the figures,” he said. “Among the causes is that some certified forest concessions are in conflict areas, making them no longer accessible. Also implicated is increasing tropical timber demand in Asia, where sustainability is hardly ever a purchasing criteria.”

In addition, Jan Oldenburger from Probos added; ‘Malaysia is the most important supplier of certified material for the Dutch market and if the certified sustainably managed forest area there decreases, it will impact the market share. Although we are worried, we should be aware that a one year’s decrease, might be an incident. We continue to monitor the situation.”

In the Netherlands, leading timber and associated trade associations, construction and retail sector bodies, unions, conservation organisations and various government ministries have signed a ‘Covenant’ to make verified sustainable timber the norm across the supply chain. Mr Van den Heuvel, chairman of the Covenant board, said the VVNH and the other 23 signatories needed to step up their efforts in supporting sustainable tropical timber demand, which in turn supports sustainable tropical forest management.

”One thing is clear,” he said. “If the market for verified sustainable wood doesn’t lead quickly to a better business case for sustainable forest management in the tropics, we will probably lose even more certified concessions, with over-harvesting or deforestation as a result. In short, the remaining challenges are great and all parties must work hard to meet Covenant objectives”.









EU commits to boost global forest protection effort

© Courtesy TFT

The EU has pledged to support spread of sustainable, biodiverse forest coverage worldwide. In July the European Commission adopted the EU Communication ‘Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests’.

The STTC welcomed the new development as in line with its objective to grow the EU market for verified sustainable tropical timber. At the same time, IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative urged further steps, including using regulation and demand, to drive development of deforestation free supply chains.

The EU communication proposes creation of a ‘multi-stakeholder platform’ and an EU Observatory on deforestation and forest degradation. It also advocates exploration of forest protection  legislative measures, and reinforcing implementation of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to combat illegal logging.

At its core are five policy priorities for the EU. To:

  • Reduce the EU’s consumption footprint on land and encourage consumption of products from deforestation-free supply chains
  • Work with producer countries to reduce pressures on forests and “deforest-proof” EU development cooperation
  • Strengthen international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and promote reforestation
  • Redirect finance to more sustainable land-use practices
  • Increase provision of information and back research on forests and commodity supply chains

“Setting out these policy priorities is a positive step and the strategy shares key goals with the STTC and its partners,” said Nienke Sleurink of the STTC . “The STTC’s aim is also to ensure deforestation-free timber supply chains and forest maintenance through supporting uptake of sustainable timber procurement policy and so drive the spread of sustainable forest management. It also welcomes increased backing for forest research, with another STTC strategy being to support development of markets for verified sustainable lesser used tropical species and so make sustainable forest management more economically viable.”

ATIBT’s Fair & Precious campaign has also been active in moves to achieve deforestation-free supply chains in forest commodities. It is involved in the French National Strategy against Imported Deforestation (SNDI), including in sharing its experience with the F&P brand for the possible development of a ‘Zero Deforestation’ label.

The EU says its new strategy on forests is a response to ‘persistence of the issue of global deforestation and increasing awareness of the link between deforestation and agricultural expansion, as well as repeated calls from the European Parliament and the Council to take action’.

“It recognizes that the EU, as a major importer of agricultural and forest commodities, is part of the problem, but can also be part of the solution,” it states. “The overall objective of the initiative is to develop a more coherent and comprehensive approach to the problem.”

Among the additional measures IDH urged the EU to consider in a position paper on the Communication [add link to IDH position paper] was use of competition compliance legislation to ‘promote innovation for sustainable supply chains’.

“Closer collaboration between DG Environment and DG Trade should also be explored,” it said. “How can trade agreements be set up in such a way that sustainable production and imports are promoted, and the requirements for imports are enforced?”

The organisation also suggests making it obligatory for EU member states to source only sustainable products, and it recommends partnering on sustainable supply chain development with other trading powers, mentioning India and China. It recommends too including sustainability data in trade statistics to inform policy development.

IDH also highlights the importance of including smallholders in sustainable trade strategy and supporting anti-deforestation measures at sub-national level.

It additionally questions the EU Communication’s recommendation to ‘disseminate information to help reduce demand for products whose supply chains may involve deforestation’. “Moving away from supply chains that have issues will not create impact, it merely displaces the problem,” states IDH. “All efforts that the EU undertakes should focus on creating an incentive for continuous improvement in production. Part of this incentive is increasing demand.”

STTC partner Interholco also contributed to consultation, which can be found here.

More background to the EU strategy can be found in its Roadmap document.

Shanghai International Forum focuses on tropical timber’s future – challenges and opportunities

Growing worldwide timber demand, combating deforestation and the need to move to a bio-based, de-carbonised global economy are among topics in focus at the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) International Forum in Shanghai.

The event is titled Together Towards Global Green Supply Chains and takes place from October 22 to 23. It is being held in association with the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association (CTWPDA) and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) as an outcome of its Legal and Sustainable Supply Chains (LSSC) initiative.

There will be field visits on October 24 and 26 October and delegates also have the opportunity to attend the CTWPDA’s Global Hardwood and Wood Flooring Conference, which takes place in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province on October 25.

Rapid transition to a bio-based economy

The organisers cite the latest Special Report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which stated that global climate goals cannot be reached without rapid transition to a bio-based, de-carbonised economy founded on legal and sustainable production and consumption.  At the same time, they say, the gap between global demand and supply of timber is expected to widen to 2050, as wood fibre consumption increases, driven by growing population, notably in tropical countries, and deforestation and forest degradation impacts wood availability.

In response to these market and environmental challenges, many forest-based companies have implemented responsible production and sourcing strategies. However, many producers, notably in tropical countries, face difficulties in responding due to ‘lack of incentives and enabling frameworks’ and limited technical and financial capacity to meet and document compliance with legality and sustainability [requirements]’.

Calls for international cooperation

This, say the Forum organisers, calls for market collaboration and communication.
“There is an urgent need to develop green markets domestically and internationally, enhancing direct connectivity between producers and consumers,” they state.  “This will also promote better understanding of demand, supply and market constraints, while strengthening trust, via which climate and other benefits can be derived.”

The ITTO urges private sector action on these issues to complement efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goals. It launched its LSSC programme to incentivize green markets, support enabling governance frameworks and increase capacity for implementation of good practice. The aim is also to connect ‘committed consumers and producers’.

The Global Green Supply Chain

Under its Global Green Supply Chain (GGSC) initiative, ITTO is also partnering with leading Chinese wood trading and processing operations. The aim is a GGSC Platform connecting international and domestic producers and consumers to increase sustainable wood sourcing and production and ensure sustainable wood supply meets international demand for legal, sustainable and certified timber.

Key aims and outcomes

The Forum will also address how such steps can bring associated benefits; poverty alleviation, employment creation, economic growth and climate change mitigation.

Key goals of the event are:

  • To raise the profile of productive forests and their contribution to climate change mitigation and sustainable development
  • To review the private sector’s role in climate change and development initiatives
  • To identify legality and sustainability issues in wood supply chains and capacity requirements for sustainable forest management and deforestation-free practice
  • To address challenges and opportunities in global wood supply chain demand and supply
  • To encourage development of sustainable timber and wood products supply chains
  • To promote partnership in global green wood supply chains.

The aim of the event will also be to establish an LSSC-GGSC Platform to facilitate business information exchange and collaboration between timber producers, buyers, processors and wood market representatives.

Forum delegates are expected to include; ITTO and GGSC current and prospective members; CTWPDA members with an interest in LSSC and GGSC; ATIBT members, including representatives of the African forest concession and wood industries; forest and timber federation representatives from the Amazon Basin and Southeast Asia; GGSC current and potential donors; and other stakeholders, including representatives of government, research bodies, academia, forest and timber trade initiatives and civil society.

The International Forum will also be a prime opportunity for networking, with business-to-business meetings arranged by the organisers, where required.  Proceedings will be in English, French, Spanish and Mandarin, with simultaneous translation.

For more details and registration contact: Manissa Tanhchaleun or visit

Technical and communications synergies for tropical timber

This is the first joint newsletter from the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition and the Fair&Precious marketing initiative from ATIBT (International Technical Association for Tropical Timber). It follows their agreement last year to cooperate and to reinforce their individual strengths and objectives. The two organisations see their roles and strategies as ‘deeply complementary’. Operating in tandem, they maintain, they can more effectively achieve their shared goal of growing the European market for verified sustainable tropical timber, which in turn will increase uptake of sustainable forest management in tropical countries. 

“This partnership is a logical progression. The STTC and Fair&Precious work in different ways, but ultimately we share the same goals. The STTC has undertaken a lot of research and technical work into the availability, supply, demand and performance of sustainable tropical timber, while F&P is highly effective in terms of broader communications, use of visuals and branding.  Combining these capabilities, provision of technical information and communication skills and tools, will create a powerful resource for verified sustainable tropical timber in the marketplace.”
Nienke Sleurink, Program Manager at STTC founder IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative.

“The ATIBT – with Fair&Precious brand- and STTC  have common aims; promoting FSC and PEFC-certified tropical timber and increasing its European market share. We now have a two-step approach to driving  synergies between us. We are starting with collaboration on quickly achievable aims and discussing stepping up our activities in 2020. We are working on a co-branded market data report, which FSC, PEFC, the European Timber Trade Federation and maybe NGOs can use as a stepping off point to help increase certified market share. Our joint newsletter will disseminate our tools and reports to a wider audience and we will use STTC’s data to support the Fair&Precious campaign. Together we are also stepping up use of social media.”
Benoît Jobbé-Duval, Managing Director Fair&Precious founder ATIBT.






EU risks missing sustainable sourcing targets

Europe is still contributing to deforestation through trade in ‘forest risk’ commodities.

According to a report from IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative, large-scale EU imports of tropical timber, soy, palm oil and cocoa continue to result in forest destruction and degradation and the consequent environmental damage.

Titled The Data Speaks, the report says that businesses are still buying ‘alarmingly low’ sustainable, responsibly sourced commodities, despite EU government and business pledges to import these exclusively by 2020.

To hit this target, IDH urges business and government to implement nine ‘key actions’ to create more sustainable supply chains.  

The report reviews global trade in these commodities. Except for palm oil, only 30% or under were imported by the EU as certified sustainably sourced, with the figure for timber at just 28.5%.

Sustainable trade performance varied widely between north western and southern Europe. For example, 65-70% of the Netherlands’ primary tropical timber imports are responsibly sourced. In Italy and Spain the figures are estimated around 5-10% and 2.5-7.5%.

“Current EU progress is not enough,” said Daan Wensing, Director of the IDH Landscape Program. “It is dangerously behind when it comes to meeting responsible sourcing and no-deforestation pledges. We need urgent action from industry players and governments to jointly fight deforestation in supply chains, while securing economic development and livelihoods in producing countries.”

Research from the Global Forest Watch (GFW) reinforces IDH’s findings. It reveals that 3.6m hectares of tropical forest have been cleared since 2002, largely driven by agricultural commodity production.

However, according to a YouGov poll, commissioned by the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fern, Greenpeace and WWF, 87% of European consumers are demanding deforestation-free products.

IDH has been at the forefront of efforts to encourage corporations, producers, governments and civil society to introduce forest protection strategies, which also protect the livelihoods of local people.

IDH’s nine key actions to drive sustainable forest product trade are:

  1. Introduction of EU sustainable sourcing requirements for all commodities
  2. Development of industry association sustainable roadmaps, backed by government incentives and NGO input
  3. Implementation of mandatory reporting guidelines for businesses importing large volumes of commodities
  4. Identification of deforestation hot spots among sourcing regions to prioritise industry action
  5. Establishment of Verified Sourcing Areas, backed by incentives to drive transition to sustainable land use
  6. Mainstreaming of sustainable commodity production through government and private sector investment
  7. Direction of European commodity sourcing to deforestation hotspots to incentivise sustainable production
  8. Creation of government-to-government partnerships between the EU and supplier countries to grow capacity, strengthen enforcement and support land use planning
  9. Grow sustainable importing in non-EU countries by supporting sustainable production and through dialogue and knowledge sharing.

“Forest loss continues at an alarming rate,” concluded Daan Wensing. “The good news is that we have the partners and tools to fight it and, by pooling Europe’s demand for sustainable commodities from hotspot regions, the situation can be changed. Commitments matter. but stopping global deforestation and climate change will take more than just words – together, we need to turn pledges into action.”

IDH will present its findings at the International Sustainability Week of the Amsterdam Declaration Partnership (ADP) in Utrecht from 11-14 June. The ADP is a partnership between Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands and UK promoting deforestation-free, sustainable commodities.

IDH was supported in producing The Data Speaks by, the European Palm Oil Alliance, Probos, ATIBT and the Netherlands’ IUCN National Committee.

See #pledges2action

Bringing tropical timber on board with Amsterdam Declaration

EU-wide action to ensure import of 100% sustainably sourced forest commodities, including tropical timber, was the topic of a special Sustainable Tropical Timber Event organised by IDH,The Sustainable Trade Initiative and the STTC. Preliminary findings of the new market report on verified sustainable tropical timber imports were presented, concluding that 25-32% of tropical timer imported into the EU is ‘exposed’ to certification.

The Utrecht event on 12 June attracted public and private sector delegates. It was part of a series of events IDH organized during the International Sustainability Week Towards Deforestation-free, Sustainable Commodities of the Amsterdam Declaration Partnership (ADP). The ADP commits its signatories to eliminate deforestation resulting from trade in agro-commodities by 2020, comprising beef, leather, palm oil, paper, pulp, cocoa and rubber. The fact that it does not include timber and that action on all forest-risk commodities is not moving fast enough are the focus of a just-published IDH report, The Data Speaks.  and were also the theme of the Utrecht meeting. The concern was that, without further measures and the inclusion of timber in any strategy, ADP signatories may not hit their 2020 target.

“Commitments matter, but stopping global deforestation will take more than words. It requires real actions from European producers and on the ground in producing countries, while transforming markets globally,” states IDH. “With 2020 coming closer, it is clear that the ambitious objectives of many players concerning no-deforestation in supply chains will not be met.”

The conference included the release of the preliminary findings of the forthcoming STTC and IDH report on European market share of verified sustainable tropical timber from forests and timber sustainability advisors and analysts Probos and the Global Timber Forum (GTF).  This looks at latest trade trends in verified sustainable tropical timber, concluding that 25-32% of tropical timer imported into the EU is ‘exposed’ to certification (that equates to the certified production forest area of supplier countries). It also estimated that 12.5 million ha of tropical forest would additionally be impacted if the EU imported 100% verified sustainable timber.

The audience agreed with the findings and recommendations of the report, which was commissioned by STTC/IDH. “They also made important points and raised questions,” said Mark van Benthem of Probos. ”They highlighted the need to include secondary timber products in these kind of studies, like furniture and flooring, and for more insight into indirect imports, such as those from China into the EU”.

Delegates also asked whether a greater area of sustainably managed, certified forest in South East Asia could be linked to FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement being in place with Indonesia. As far as the audience knew, there has not been research bringing evidence of a relationship. In addition, MTCS and The Borneo Initiative have been working in the region pushing for certification in the region for 2 decades already.

At the Conference, Chris Beeko of the Ghanaian Forestry Commission also addressed FLEGT and its Voluntary Partnership Agreement programme. He explained that, although the market has shifted dramatically since the start of the FLEGT process and Europe now only plays a minor role for the Ghanaian timber trade, the country is keen to proceed with the FLEGT programme, which has significantly benefited  the forest based sector through greater stakeholder participation, implementation of timber tracking and other developments.

This was followed by a discussion on the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Initiative (FLEGT) and certification between UK Timber Trade Federation Managing Director, David Hopkins, Remi Souria of the PEFC and John Hontelez of FSC.

The central question was on how FLEGT can be a stepping stone towards sustainability and lay foundations on which sustainable forest management measures can build. Differences between FLEGT and certification mentioned were that one is mandatory, the other voluntary and that the former may allow genetic modification, but PEFC and FSC do not. FLEGT also brings scale, in terms of nationwide coverage and product volume, whereas certification takes less time to implement.

A sign that the two are recognising that they can be complementary, however, was FLEGT countries exploring the possibility with PEFC of additionally adopting certification. In general, there was agreement on the importance and role of FLEGT among the speaker panel.

At the event, IDH Landscapes Program Director Daan Wensing also explained the nine actions to drive sustainable forest commodities sourcing detailed in The Data Speaks report.

LKTS support trade group meets


The working group of a new trade initiative to develop the European market for lesser known timber species from the Congo Basin (LKTSCB) has held its first meeting.

The LKTSCB emerged from a business marketing summit in Libreville, Gabon, last summer, the FSC Congo Basin Business Encounter where the focus was on driving uptake of certified sustainable forest management across the region.

The LKTSCB was set up following the conclusion that a key factor in incentivising supplier countries to opt for certification is a growing market for the resulting certified timber. Creating demand for lesser known species in particular can make certification more economically viable.

The stated aim of the new European trade group, which is overseen by the FSC, is to introduce and promote selected lesser known species simultaneously in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the UK and Belgium.  Attending its inaugural meeting in Utrecht in January were Ewa Bazydlo of Lathams in the UK, Emmanuel Groutel of Wale/CBG in France, Gijs Burgman of Wijma and Jan Kemps of Hotim Veteka both in the Netherlands, Klaus Schmidt of Cross Trade in Germany, Dirk Debussche of Vandecasteele in Belgium and Kristian Jorgensen of FSC Denmark. Co-ordinating was Ben Romein of FSC Netherlands.

Delegates presented strategic views on prospects for LKTS in their respective markets and a common promotional approach. They also discussed species selection and who should take various roles in the initiative. They also addressed budget and promotion and marketing issues, with support to be provided by the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT).

They identified seven Congo region species related and market areas to target; Alep, Amouc, Andoung, Eveuss, Eyoum, Gombé, Movingui, Olon and Ozigo. These varieties will be

further evaluated by the working group and once approved, the introductory phase will start and a promotional programme and timetable developed.