STTC and F&P conference: Tropical sustainability demands the right combination of actions

Photo: CIFOR

IDH Director Markets and SourceUp Willem Klaassens emphasised at the recent joint Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) and Fair&Precious Conference that there was no ‘silver bullet’ for achieving sustainable tropical timber trade. The online event, which attracted an international audience of around 100, was titled ‘Sustainably managed forests as part of the solution to climate change: Recognising the value of certified forests and ecosystems’.

In his opening address, Mr Klaassens said there was a need for additional responses to the challenge of halting and reversing tropical forest loss as strategies to date ‘have achieved limited impact’. Critically what was required were greater alignment and synergies between the multiple organisations and initiatives involved in driving sustainable forest management. “We need action-driven partnership between public and private sectors and other key stakeholders to create value for all,” he said.
The positive that came out of the conference was that there are promising, dynamic projects harnessing commerce to conservation in the forest and timber sectors. Moreover there is increasing integration between approaches and, said Mr Klaassens, the momentum of the EU Green Deal and the global climate agenda is now not just driving the need, but increasing support for further action to achieve deforestation-free supply chains.

Mark van Benthem, Director of sustainable forest and timber trade analysts and advisors Probos, addressed the forest positives of EU and UK certified tropical trade with details from its latest data report on their primary and secondary tropical timber imports. This calculates that if EU and UK imports were 100% certified – and currently the level is 31-36% – there would be beneficial impacts for an estimated 16 million ha of forest in terms of support for sustainable forest management. It also projects that, as certification prevents premature re-entry logging, if all EU and UK tropical timber imports were certified it would have saved 88.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020.

Guido Rutten of IDH-The Sustainable Trade Initiative, explained its SourceUp verified sourcing area (VSA) sustainable landscape programme. This involves establishing ‘Compacts’ in supplier country jurisdictional areas, which implement strategies to meet sustainability targets for multiple forest and agricultural commodities. These are backed by buyers and investors who can highlight their involvement in their CSR policy and marketing.
Director Stakeholder Solutions Gemma Boetekees said the FSC is also addressing the sustainable landscape approach in its Focus Forests project for forests of special social and environmental value. “Rather than delivering a set of principles and criteria for landscape stakeholders to implement, we’re asking them ‘what are your needs’. The FSC is changing,” she said.

Reviewing the EU’s proposed new deforestation regulation, imposing due diligence obligations on first placer importers of six key forest and eco-system risk commodities (FERCs), including wood, Tropenbos International Director René Boot said it must ‘bridge high level policy with on-the-ground experience and need’. “And we need price and other incentives for suppliers,” he said. “If Europe wants sustainable products, it must pay for them.”

The conference also included a keynote from Central African Forest Commission President Hervé Maidou, and a dozen breakout sessions led by an international panel of speakers on topics from fiscal incentives for sustainable forestry, to lesser known tropical species.

Visit for the recordings and a full report on the conference.