STTC and Fair & Precious talk cooperation

The two initiatives focused on promoting verified sustainable tropical timber in Europe and highlighting the role a strong timber market plays in strengthening sustainable forest management, are aligning communications and exploring further cooperation. The Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition and the Fair & Precious branding campaign of the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) have identified a range of areas for working together.

The aim of Fair & Precious (F&P, is to promote the environmental, economic and social benefits of supplying, specifying and using timber from sustainably managed tropical forests certified under FSC or PEFC schemes. Launched by the ATIBT in 2017,  the campaign is co-funded by the French Development Agency and Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC).

At the heart of the initiative is the F&P brand. This is designed for use by campaign member companies along the tropical timber supply chain in their own marketing, branding and communications. To qualify, they must adopt a set of ten commitments on a range of environmental performance areas, prove they maintain highest ethical standards and undergo regular audit.

“F&P is a stamp that conveys their environmental credentials and the special value of the material. It also gives users and their verified sustainable tropical timber products an edge in the market,” said ATIBT Managing Director Benoît Jobbé-Duval. “It’s simultaneously about promoting the industry and responsible forest management and increasing market uptake of the timber.”

He said the aims of F&P and STTC ‘are deeply complementary’.

“F&P makes extensive use of visual messaging, such as the ATIBT movie ‘how to preserve tropical forests’. It also employs testimonies from supplier countries and an appeal to the emotions to raise public awareness of the key role of the private sector in sustainable forest management. The STTC approach is strongly data-led and evidential, with in-depth reporting of the impacts of certified sustainable sourcing.”

Initially the two operations will exchange information and look to align and coordinate websites. There will be shared content, but with the STTC taking a business-centric approach, with more specialist material, the F&P site targeting a broader audience, including the public, although with the back-up of STTC science-based technical information. They will also co-produce a newsletter with joint messaging underlining their collaboration.

“Currently STTC publishes four newsletters per year, this will increase to six to eight joint editions with F&P, with distribution to a combined contact database,” said IDH programme manager Nienke Sleurink. “We will also share and co-brand the annual STTC data market data report monitoring European sales share of certified timber, with ATIBT translating it into French and supporting distribution.”

“We will additionally develop and distribute a marketing toolkit to certified operators and our official F&P partners to help communicate their activities,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval.

“Promotion tools and fact-based communications will be pulled out of the STTC knowledge and tools data base and shared,” added Ms Sleurink. “And the marketing kit will include photo materials, messaging and promotional tools in the form of downloads, with examples of how these have been used in the market.”

Currently the F&P brand is only for use by ATIBT members, but longer term, said Mr Jobbé-Duval, it may be made more generally available as part of a strategy for the campaign to become self supporting.