After Paris 2024 Olympics delivery authority Solideo dropped its ban on use of tropical timber in Games developments, suppliers have pitched to provide verified sustainable sourced Ttali for decking and other exterior fixtures.
Initially Solideo had announced its block on use of both tropical and boreal timber from outside the EU in Olympics building and infrastructure projects in a document laying out its criteria for ‘environmental excellence’. Executive general director Nicolas Ferrand also said the aim of the ban was ‘to reduce as much as possible the carbon impact of the [Olympics] works’.
However, as previously reported in the STTC/Fair&Precious newsletter, this led to protests and intensive lobbying from the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) and others. They maintained that the ban would undermine both market confidence in certified sustainable tropical timber and the drive to encourage implementation of sustainable forest management in tropical regions.
Backed by French trade association, Le Commerce du Bois, the Programme for Promotion of Certified Forest Operations (PPECF) and individual certified companies, the ATIBT put its case to Solideo and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. It said that the ban ‘contravened the principle of free competition between products’. It also maintained that Solideo’s decision was not based on clearly defined environmental protection requirements and disregarded certified suppliers’ provision of chain of custody from certified sustainable forests.
In the face of this lobbying, the authority eventually dropped its ban and issued its call for tenders for the supply of 4,400m2 of decking, plus barriers, in Tali (or an equivalent timber) in June.
While the volume of timber in the call is not great relative to the scale of Olympics developments, ATIBT Managing Director Benoît Jobbé-Duval was quoted in a report from the Mediapart online news service as saying that the decision to allow use of tropical timber was nevertheless significant. “We were not fighting for a volume but for a symbol,” he said. “We wanted the door to be opened to a responsible consumption of wood coming from Central Africa.” ATIBT’s hope, he added, was that the Olympics would now bring ‘visibility and legibility’ to the cause of promoting use of certified sustainable tropical timber and, in so doing, support certified sustainable forest management.
Conditions for use of tropical timber at the Olympics include that it is FSC-certified and that new timber is matched by use recycled wood ‘of equivalent quality’. The material is also to be backed with life cycle analysis data (LCA). The ATIBT has issued an appeal to companies to inform it of available sources of recycled timber. It said it will also bring its expertise to bear on analysis of the supply chain for the tropical timber provided for the Games. “There is no doubt that a nice narrative can be made around this wood, whose social and environmental value must be highlighted and disseminated to the public, to, as some say, connect cities with forests,” it stated.