Assessing STTC achievements and future prospects

Photo: CIFOR 

Next year the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition will celebrate its 10th anniversary, time to look at the impacts, lessons learned and where it might go from here especially with the departure of IDH as a principal funder.

The STTC aim is to support spread of sustainable forest management in tropical countries by ‘accelerating demand for certified or licensed timber in the EU through creating synergies between legality measures and sustainability efforts’. The premise was that the more verified sustainable tropical timber sold in the EU, the greater incentive there would be in supplier countries to implement sustainable forest management (SFM).

From 2012-2016 says Probos, the STTC built a coalition of private sector companies, national and local governments committed to furthering its aims. Among its roles were communication, facilitating networking and providing supply chain matchmaking.
The STTC supported European timber trade federations in development of nationwide policies for promotion and monitoring of sustainable tropical timber trade. It also backed individuals and organisations implementing action plans to increase demand for verified sustainable tropical timber and the lesser known timber species (LKTS) network.

STTC members rated its support for development of sustainable tropical timber procurement policies most highly, followed by STTC data studies on certified sustainable tropical timber imports in a survey. They felt that the STTC had greatest impact on ‘conservation and wise use’ of tropical forests, in influencing public perceptions on use of tropical timber and increasing understanding of the concept of verified sustainable.

IDH has now ended its funding for the STTC, leaving it looking for other means of support and an alternative ownership model. The evaluation mentions various ways forward, including donor and crowd funding, membership fees and merger with other organizations. On the question of how the STTC could contribute to conserving tropical forests into the future, respondents suggested it could lead a think tank on tropical timber and related issues including climate change and the role of small scale forest businesses. Other potential projects could be creation of a broader platform for producers and traders to communicate with consumers, further research into uses of LKTS and initiatives to strengthen European involvement in producer countries.

The evaluation acknowledges that continuing the STTC ‘either as a coalition/platform’ or as ‘an initiator of focused, project-like initiatives’ requires further investigation. But it concludes: ‘time spent on this is worth the effort and should be seen as an investment in the still very urgent objective of increasing demand for verified sustainable tropical timber to support sustainable forest management in producer countries’.