A new strategy has been launched to raise awareness of and grow support for the Fair&Precious (F&P) tropical timber promotional campaign in the US
F&P founder, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT), has appointed US-based Nathalie Bouville as the focal point consultant for the project. She’s tasked with cultivating interest in the campaign and encouraging US organisations and companies to join and become partners. “My role centers on formulating a growth strategy tailored to the USA market and steering this initiative to bolster membership engagement”, she said. The pivotal moment to date in the communications effort was the presentation of ATIBT and F&P at the World of Wood Convention held in Charlotte, South Carolina, in April 2023. “The event, organized by the International Wood Products Association (IWPA), provided a prime opportunity to showcase ATIBT and to present the distinctive features of the F&P platform”, said Ms. Bouville. “Building on this foundation, I am proactively engaged with a specifically targeted group of tropical wood importers via email, phone calls, and webinars, to introduce them to the value of F&P. The aim is not only to facilitate familiarity but also to cultivate a dynamic community of tropical wood importers integrated into the ATIBT/F&P ecosystem.”
She reports that, while most US importers are familiar with Latin American wood types, they are less knowledgeable about African species and their properties. “They are not used to dealing with Africa, especially the francophone central region”, said Ms. Bouville. “Some might even have negative preconceived ideas about African timber, so they are curious to learn more. They want support to identify new sources of supply, help in understanding legal frameworks, and in general how to do business in these unknown territories.”
The American tropical timber market is reported traditionally to have been price-led and focused on ensuring transactions are legally sound. “The notion of sustainability up to very recently was not necessarily seen as a priority”, said Ms. Bouville. “But the climate crisis and the need for a drastic change in environmental practices has finally hit the American public and therefore the business world has to adapt to it. There is an increased pressure to green all business sectors and I can testify from my interactions with importers that sustainability will be top of their list in the future. I am optimistic, therefore, that they will see the benefits of joining ATIBT and F&P. Furthermore, the new CITES listings which will restrict imports of ipe and cumaru and the general narrative about tropical wood from the Amazon can be seen as a market opportunity for wood from other regions, contributing further to a more sustainable timber market in the USA.” ATIBT is also sharing its market resources and insights on the African tropical timber sector with the IWPA and the organizations are in the process of signing a partnership agreement. They have already had several joint meetings on CITES topics.