In the latest of our interviews with Fair&Precious partners, we ask Bertrand Faucon, founder of Stratémark of France, about the company and its perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of the tropical timber sector.
STTC/F&P newsletter: How would you describe Stratémark?
Bertrand Faucon: Stratémark is a marketing consulting agency, created in Normandy in 1986, specializing in the fields of the environment and tourism.
STTC/F&P: Why did you become a partner of Fair&Precious and what do you think it can achieve ?
BF: We had the opportunity to contribute to the creation of the Fair&Precious brand in 2017 and immediately adhered to the values of its founder, ATIBT, and other companies committed to sustainable forest management.
FSC or PEFC-PAFC certified forest managers make considerable efforts to preserve resources and biodiversity and contribute to economic and local development. And I believe we must convince the public and consumers of the existence of this exemplary model for preserving forests, while at the same time taking advantage of this fantastic material that is wood.
STTC/F&P: The European tropical timber industry has struggled to retain market share in recent years. What do you see as its main challenges?
BF: We must first eradicate illegal timber from all markets, including in Africa. Legality compliance is a first step. And on that continent, our goal must be to engage as much of the Congo Basin as possible in sustainable management. Then you have to convince buyers and the general public that wood is the most ecological, valuable and attractive material that exists.
STTC/F&P: Do you think the tropical timber sector can rebuild its presence in Europe?
BF: Yes, most certainly. But for that, we must not set objectives of volume but rather of quality. The right wood for the right use. Tropical woods, for example, have natural advantages without chemical treatment. They also offer an incomparable variety of aesthetics.
STTC/F&P: In which markets do you see greatest opportunities for growth in sales of sustainable tropical timber?
BF: Marine engineering or hydraulic applications of course are key. But also the field of construction in general and luxury manufactured goods. The decking market should also remain an important tropical timber user and ATIBT’s ambition is to recover certified tropical wood’s market share in flooring.
STTC/F&P: Do you see new applications opening up for sustainable tropical wood in the future?
BF: I can see particular prospects for developing its use in the healthcare sector and retirement homes. The positive impacts on health and the well-being benefits of wooden interior environments is now widely documented.
STTC/F&P: Do you think it is important to increase the demand for lesser known sustainable tropical timber species and if so, how do you think this can be achieved?
BF: It takes time to introduce secondary species to the market because you have to carry out technical tests and then convince buyers they should try them. But it is necessary to diversify our species use to reduce supply pressure on the best known species.
STTC/F&P: What would be your sales pitch for sustainable tropical timber – how can the trade persuade consumers and professionals to specify it, buy it and use it?
BF: From my point of view, you should only promote FSC and/or PEFC-PAFC certified wood. In developing its use, not only do we not participate in deforestation, but on the contrary we contribute to protecting the forest by giving it value. In my opinion achieving these certification standards in tropical countries is even more demanding than in Europe. Fair&Precious forest managers in the tropics, for instance, have very strict obligations in terms of the fight against poaching and in supporting social development. We have to support them.
STTC/F&P: Looking at the challenges and opportunities, are you optimistic about the future of the sustainable tropical timber industry and trade?
BF: I am naturally optimistic. Both because nature always wins out and because, I hope, younger generations will behave more and more like environmental protectors and not like predators. We must also favour renewable materials such as wood, while not harvesting more than the forest can sustainably provide.
We simply have to come to our senses, obviously combating illegal logging, but not embargoing use of tropical timber. Wood is obviously the material of the future and within the timber market, tropical wood clearly has its place.