Photo: Henry Timber
In the latest of our series of interviews with Fair&Precious (F&P) partners about their companies, their business ethos and ambitions for the sustainable tropical timber campaign, we talk to Henry Timber President Patrick Faure.
STTC/F&P: How would you describe Henry Timber?
Patrick Faure: A family business since 1895, Henry Timber is today one the leading companies in the European timber trade. We import timber from South-East Asia, Africa, North and South America, Russia and Europe, supplying a total of around 100 different species. Our range includes raw, construction and planed timber and timber for interior and exterior fittings. We distribute 150,000 m3 of wood annually to Samse Group, of which Henry Timber is a part, outlets throughout Europe supplying around 70 species to service construction, joinery and decking markets.
STTC/F&P: Why did Henry Timber become a Fair&Precious partner?
PF: Being an official partner of Fair&Precious is in line with our sustainable development approach. It is a complementary to our policy and goals for using certified wood and operating to support the preservation of forest diversity. We have been PEFC and FSC certified for many years and are committed to use of sustainably managed resources. We believe that it is essential that certification of tropical forests continues to develop in order to offer the market wood from sustainably managed forests, while finding a balance between environmental, social and economic considerations.
STTC/F&P: The European tropical timber sector has battled to maintain market share in recent years. What would you say are its major challenges?
PF: It is well known that tropical timber has a challenging image because of deforestation issues and bad practices in the past. Today it is crucial for this sector to show that things have changed and that the exploitation of forest resources is done in accordance with strict legal and sustainable development principles and third party certification.
STTC/F&P: Do you believe the tropical timber sector can rebuild its presence in Europe?
PF: Following on from the previous point, if we can restore a ‘clean’ image to tropical timber and develop certified supplies, then tropical timber will have every chance of regaining its place in European construction.
STTC/F&P: In which markets do you see greatest possibilities for growing sustainable tropical timber sales?
PF: Thanks to the gradually growing number of tropical species available, the range of possible uses is very wide, opening up many opportunities. However, it is important to use the right species in the right place, taking into account their properties. It is therefore important to rely on a network of knowledgeable and competent professionals.
STTC/F&P: Do you see new applications opening for sustainable tropical timber in the future?
PF: The environmental crisis presents opportunities for the wood industry. In this context there is a strong argument for using timber. In fact tropical woods have a particularly strong card to play because it is scientifically proven that the denser the wood, the higher the volume of carbon stored. There are certainly many applications to be developed, but the construction sector remains today the one with the most opportunities due to the technical and environmental challenges it faces.
STTC/F&P: What is Henry Timber’s view on increasing use of lesser known sustainable tropical timber species?
PF: There are a large number of well-known and recognised tropical species throughout South America, Africa and Asia, for which there is high demand. But in the context of sustainable management, the resource is not inexhaustible. From these same provenances there are other species that are much less well-known, but with equally interesting properties. In order to guarantee a regular and satisfactory volume, it is imperative today to highlight these lesser known species.
STTC/F&P: What would be your sales pitch for sustainable tropical timber?
PF: The main arguments for using tropical timber are :
– The multitude of wood species available
– The durability and resilience of a large number of species
– The implementation of eco-certification schemes that guarantee the legality of the wood and the sustainable management of the forest resource
– That it’s a globally important resource in terms of volume.
STTC/F&P Are you optimistic for the future of the sustainable tropical timber sector?
PF: Nothing is certain, because tropical woods still have a bad image among politicians and the general public and there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of bringing certified wood into the market mainstream. However, we now have the arguments to show that tropical woods are no longer to be equated with deforestation and that their use can be beneficial in terms of sustainable development.