The STTC launched in Amsterdam in late 2013 against a background of falling European tropical timber imports, determined to halt and reverse the trend.
Part of the reason for the decline in European tropical consumption was the international economic crisis. But the timber sector was convinced image was also an issue.
Impactful NGO campaigning on tropical deforestation and illegal logging had shaped market opinion. At the same time, there was insufficient awareness that responsibly-sourced timber from well-managed forests was even available from tropical supplier countries. The outcome was that the reputation of all tropical timber suffered.
Declining tropical sales, deteriorating forest management
If action was not taken to stop the downward trend, the concern was that not only would the EU market be deprived of this diverse and versatile material, tropical forest management would suffer too.
European timber buyers are at the forefront of moves to support tropical country efforts to embed legal and responsible forestry practice. The fear is that, if their lose commercial presence and influence diminishes, the forestry and timber sectors in these countries may look to other markets where such issues are less important or even consider converting forest land to other uses.
The founders of the STTC are convinced that the opposite would also be the case; grow the EU market for sustainably sourced tropical timber and responsible forest management in tropical countries would grow too.
Market can drive sustainable forestry, says PwC
This belief was underpinned by a report from market analysts PwC, commissioned by STTC founder, Netherland-based IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative. This concluded that increased European demand for responsibly sourced tropical timber was vital to encourage producer countries to accelerate implementation of sustainable forest management and third-party legality and sustainability verification. (Click to download the PwC report).
Consequently the STTC believes that the measures of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) to combat illegal timber trade and efforts to increase EU demand for sustainably sourced tropical timber could be complementary. In fact, it identifies a unique opportunity to bundle together legality measures and sustainability initiatives under its positive EU demand-side intervention to make sustainably sourced tropical timber part of the EU market mainstream.