Photo: Sietze van Dijk
In recent years the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition has worked increasingly closely with the Fair&Precious sustainable tropical timber promotional campaign, run by the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT). The two have issued joint newsletters, collaborated on events and shared information and data. Benoît Jobbé-Duval, Managing Director of ATIBT, and Romain Lorent, Coordinator of Fair&Precious supporting Programme for the Promotion of Certified Forest Operations (PPECF), see relations with the STTC as a valuable alliance, with potential for further development.
“Fair&Precious aims to support sustainable management via FSC and PEFC certification in tropical forests, so there is an important complementarity with the STTC,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval. “Our approaches are in line. Our joint aim is to strengthen support for sustainable tropical forest management through promotion of certification.” STTC market and trade flow analysis also helps underpin the ATIBT’s market-facing activity, he added. “STTC has a good knowledge of data on certified wood consumption in European markets, and has a particular understanding of Anglo-Saxon countries and their timber trade actors. ATIBT and Fair&Precious are more concentrated on communication and marketing issues and the output from STTC helps us better focus our work and generates market data we can use to measure the impact of our activities.”
“As primarily a communications programme, it’s valuable for Fair&Precious to be able to draw on the expertise and data of other bodies,” said Mr Lorent. “These include the STTC, the Thémis European sustainable timber procurement data gathering tool and portal, which it supports, along with other bodies, such as TU Delft University of Technology, with its work on using lesser known tropical timber species (LKTS).”
The ATIBT strongly backs the continuation of the STTC. “We need allies in this mission to develop the market for sustainable tropical timber and incentivise sustainable forest management,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval. “It’s also not just that our activities that are complementary, it’s also our geographic coverage and the last few years have shown that our joint work and joint reach can achieve results.” Among the fruits of their collaboration, he pointed to links between STTC and Fair&Precious websites, their joint organisation of the STTC Annual Conference and the joint STTC/ Fair&Precious newsletter.
Going forward, the ATIBT sees potential for strengthening and extending this cooperation in a number of areas. This includes in trade and market data gathering and analysis and backing further technical evaluation of LKTS, with an overarching goal of supporting the Fair&Precious community of tropical timber suppliers and traders. “There is also still work to be done to improve the image of certified tropical timber, and counter a lack of understanding of the sector,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval. “We need to remove blockages to tropical timber across the international market, particularly in public procurement, and we must animate the community of timber trade operators and STTC and Fair&Precious partners to better develop this brand. We could also jointly look to the brand’s future and help it to develop in other tropical regions, such as Amazonia and Asia.”
Mr Lorent sees possibilities for STTC and Fair&Precious backing development of the EU tropical trade as a ‘reserved access profession’, with a qualification needed to operate. “They could also back development of the carbon and eco-system services economy,” said Mr Lorent. “It has very attractive prospects, but requires strong lobbying and support to realise its potential.”