News  |  19.09.2019

28.5% of natural tropical timber is sustainable in Europe

IDH publishes some results on the consumption of sustainable tropical products. The full study will be communicated in October.

Europe’s markets for tropical timber have long been the leader of demand for sustainable timber and a driving force in leading market demand for certified tropical wood. However, with over two decades of hard work, even in the EU, the market share of verified sustainable natural tropical timber products is estimated to be only around 28.5%.

FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licenced timber products have a market share of 11% within the total imports of natural tropical timber products by the EU, a stepping stone towards sustainable tropical timber. There is significant scope for increasing the market share of verified sustainable tropical timber.

France is the largest European importer of tropical roundwood and veneer, as well as tropical timber overall.

As far as tropical sawn wood is concerned, Belgium and the Netherlands are significant consumers, while the UK and Italy are the biggest consumers of tropical plywood.

The amount of verified sustainable tropical timber that European countries import varies greatly.

Among top imports, the UK and Netherlands are importing 42.5% and 67.5% respectively. Germany and Belgium buy 32.5% and 27.5% respectively. In Italy and Spain, this only accounts for a maximum of 10%.

The vast majority of European tropical timber imports remains uncertified.

A lack of reliable market demand for verified sustainable tropical timber is a key challenge faced by forest managers and countries that have committed to sustainable forest management.

Although tropical timber is not a commodity covered by the Amsterdam Declaration, if the seven main timber-importing countries (Belgium, Germany, France, the UK, Netherlands, Italy, and Spain) source only sustainable natural tropical timber, an estimated additional 12.5 million ha of tropical forests can be positively impacted.

Maintaining forest cover and forest quality requires incentives for sound stewardship. Strong demand for verified sustainable tropical timber, through certified sustainable forest management, where possible combined with FLEGT-licensing, can spur the growth and spread of responsible forest management in tropical countries.

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