News  |  02.09.2021

Gombé, an unknown tropical timber species

While the diversification of species to be offered on the markets is becoming a necessity, timber species less known than traditionally marketed species are the subject of research and promotion programs. This is notably the case for Gombé.

Lesser known timber species (LKTS), sometimes called Sustainable Timber Species, are victims of their lack of visibility: buyers, whether traders, industrialists or private individuals, most often prefer to rely on species whose properties are well known and whose name is traditionally evocative. This puts pressure on historically exploited species, while other species, less known and therefore less exploited, are potential substitutes with qualities comparable to those of the most renowned species.

As FSC explains in an article published last July, the economic survival of certified companies in the Congo Basin and the perpetuation of the concession model under sustainable management according to FSC® principles depend in particular on the diversification of the species marketed. This necessity is part of a context where the timber market is increasingly constrained by standards and technical justifications. A promotional approach undertaken by the CBG (Compagnie des Bois du Gabon) over the past 5 years has demonstrated that Gombé has a very strong potential.

To this end, several specific objectives have been defined to frame the action in a strategic manner:

  • Facilitate the marketing of Gombé from sustainably managed forests, whose resource is guaranteed in quantity and renewability.
  • Communicate to manufacturers and consumers the true properties of Gombé, a versatile wood.
  • Improve the marketing approach of this material.

The trade of this species can only increase if it is accompanied by optimized data on its characteristics, attested by recognized laboratories and research organizations, or through use tests on which manufacturers can rely with confidence.

Among the actors of the promotion of the lesser known timber species, CIRAD is in the front row: it continues the work of characterization of the forest species undertaken by the CTFT (Tropical Forestry Technical Center) since 1924. It has a very rich and diversified database, recognized experts and a substantial laboratory equipment. The FCBA, the French Wood Industry Technical Center, hosts the BNBA (Bureau de Normalisation du Bois et de l'Ameublement) which sits on all European and international standardization committees. For this purpose, it has equipped itself with laboratory equipment adapted to the attribution of specific and internationally recognized approvals or certifications for certain uses. This laboratory will carry out bonding tests in order to verify the suitability of Gombé for CTB LCA bonding certification.

Finally, the SHR laboratory (Stichting Hout Research), committed to applied scientific research on the use of wood and its transformation into other materials and products, and the company Termolegno, specialized in the manufacture of dryers for the primary wood industry, which will carry out drying tests, are also actors in the valorisation of these species, which are still not sufficiently present on the markets.

By seeking to guarantee the economic viability of Gombé, the proposed activities aim to perpetuate the sustainable forest management system implemented by the company CBG. This also implies securing the jobs and socio-environmental benefits associated with these activities.

The promotion of an abundant tropical species at a modest cost can also lead to the development of a local processing industry.