The ATIBT (International Tropical Timber Technical Association) is building a one-stop website giving performance and other use and specification data for tropical timber species.
The organisation, which has won support for the initiative as STTC Project, says the goal is to make it easier for the trade to sell tropical hardwood, and for end users and specifiers to select the right material for the job. The aim is also to broaden application of tropical wood by increasing market confidence in using it in more areas and more ambitious projects.
The present lack of such a site, said ATIBT in its STTC proposal, risks misapplication of tropical material and damage to its reputation.
‘With no centralised information base, each timber trader and processor provides their own marketing message, with the result that sales staff and customers may be misled,” said ATIBT Managing Director Benoît Jobbé-Duval. “This can lead to misspecification, resulting in timber staining and failure and customers subsequently choosing other materials.”
ATIBT has asked national European trade federations to back the site, to support translation and provide ‘catalogues’ of popular species in their market. Most have agreed.
The site is modelled on www.boistropicaux.org, which is operated by French trade association Le Commerce du Bois.
“It will also be further adjusted to each national context, taking into account specific technical standards, and listing distributors,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval.
The site will incorporate pictures of species and applications, underpinned with technical specification data from the Tropix database of French-based agricultural research organisation CIRAD.
The new facility will also provide links to complementary online sources, including the joint ETTF/ATIBT www.timbertradeportal.com legality assurance and business link website and species specification guide www.houtdatabase.nl.
“Our objectives are also to strengthen ATIBT’s working relationships with other European associations, and to communicate our role in areas such as promoting use of legal and sustainable tropical timber and encouraging application of lesser known species,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval.
The new site should be complete, ready for adaptation by national federations, by July.