Key to the development and growth of the European sustainable tropical timber market is accurate information on the trade. This provides the foundation for and informs campaigns and initiatives to increase sustainable tropical timber procurement, which, in turn can drive uptake of sustainable forest management in tropical countries.
Below you will find details of data provided by STTC and links to other information sources.
Currently only an estimated 28.5% of European primary tropical timber sales and a 33% of secondary tropical timber sales are verified sustainably sourced. That’s according to IDH and STTC partner, forest and timber sustainability analyst and advisor, Probos.
So there is, considerable scope for market share growth, even in countries such as the UK and the Netherlands, where there are already high levels of environmental awareness and commitment on sustainability issues.
According to the 2019 IDH report ‘Unlocking Sustainable Tropical Timber Market Growth Through Data’, these last two countries have achieved 42.5% and 67.5% verified sustainable primary tropical timber sourcing. Of other leading EU tropical timber importers, Germany has achieved 32.5%, and Belgium 27.5%, while the figure for France is 12.5% and for Italy and Spain a maximum of 10%. Clearly, there is much work to be done.
The 2020 report ‘Understanding sustainable secondary tropical wood products through data’ explores Europe’s impact on tropical forests as a result of secondary tropical wood imports (doors, moldings, other joinery, and windows). Volumes of the selected secondary tropical wood product imports (187,500 tonnes in 2019) are significantly less than primary tropical wood (2,300,000 tonnes in 2018), but the impacts are still meaningful. The results show that secondary timber largely mirrors primary timber – in 2019, 33% of Europe’s direct imports of the analyzed secondary tropical wood products from ITTO producer countries were exposed to certification (compared to 28.5% of primary timber in 2018). This level of exposure to certification positively impacts at least 763,000–925,000 hectares of tropical forests.
The STTC’s ambition is to increase the share taken by verified sustainable tropical timber to 50% of the European primary tropical market by 2020. Fundamental to achieving that is to gather and disseminate accurate, current market data. Analysis of the numbers on trade flows, what products are supplied from which sources and where they do and don’t sell, is not only key to shaping policy and targeting market promotion and education initiatives. It is also vital for measuring success.
In 2018 the STTC published an initial report, ‘How sustainable are Europe’s tropical timber imports?’, with data to 2016. In 2019 the report Unlocking Sustainable Tropical Timber Market Growth Through Data was published focussing on primary tropical wood products. The follow-up report Understanding sustainable secondary tropical wood products through data focuses on secondary tropical wood products. Published late 2020 and undertaken in association with IDH – the sustainable trade initiative, Probos and the Global Timber Forum (GTF), this explores how an EU commitment to 100% verified sustainable tropical timber could contribute to deforestation-free supply chains. It estimates EU market share taken by verified sustainable tropical timber in 2018 and 2019 and assesses the likely impact of this increasing on tropical forests and timber industry carbon emissions. It concludes that, if the EU 27 plus the UK, imported exclusively verified sustainable primary tropical timber and secondary tropical wood products it could have a positive impact on approximately 18 million hectares of semi and natural tropical forests.
There are various other data sources available on tropical timber trade flows, with some including data on verified sustainable timber. These have a narrower focus, but include information on such aspects as national initiatives to demonstrate procurement policies are met (see table below).
Sustainable Timber Information Exchange (STIX)
STIX is a joint initiative of The International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) and the Global Timber Forum (GTF) and provides access to data on timber products trade as reported by the statistical agencies of 46 countries including nearly all the world’s largest exporters and importers. https://stix.global/