News  |  21.02.2020

Focus on the STTC website, partner of ATIBT for the campaign on certified sustainable tropical wood

The information available on this site is very useful to better understand the work of companies. It allows us to learn more about this sector and the value of certification.

The Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) is still a reference platform of information on the tropical timber trade. It is therefore a valued partner for ATIBT. While consumers associate tropical timber with deforestation, the STTC posts several reports questioning the validity of this bad reputation. Scientific research shows that tropical forests, when they are sustainably managed, are a source of sustainable materials with a low carbon footprint. However, European demand for tropical wood, which collapsed in 2008 as a result of the economic crisis, is still low today, partly because of this misperception. If European countries imported more certified wood from tropical forests, the question of their management would be more highlighted and their exploitation would be better managed. The report “Unlocking Sustainable Tropical Timber Market Growth Through Data. Mapping Europe’s sustainable tropical timber footprint and growing its global impact”, carried out in 2019 by the Global Timber Forum and timber and forest sustainability analysts Probos, underlines that Europe would have the potential to impact a total of 16 million hectares of natural and semi-natural tropical forest if all of its primary tropical timber imports were certified. It is therefore necessary to provide more information on the benefits of certified tropical timber.

We present here some of the reports and initatives posted by the STTC on its website.

Cerutti et al (2017). Social impacts of Forest Stewardship Council certification in the Congo Basin.

Conducting their study in the three Congo Basin countries with FSC-certified Forest Management Units (FMU) (Cameroon, Gabon and Congo), the researchers demonstrated the overall positive effect of this certification on the living and working conditions of employees of logging companies and their families. A comparison between nine FSC-certified and nine non-certified FMUs establishes a clear link between certification and improvements of the living conditions of local populations. The certified logging companies must improve the social and economic well-being of workers to get a FSC certification. The populations working in certified FMUs thus have better access to goods and services such as drinking water, sanitation, electricity or written procedures for house occupancy. Only the very low percentage (3%) of women employed by the companies is the same between certified and non-certified FMUs.

Nevertheless, while it seems clear that the implementation of certification benefits local populations, the report highlights the anthropological dimension in every certification project in regions where customary rights often conflict with the State Forestry Code. Indeed, the researchers noted during their study that certified FMUs admittedly guarantee a better application of the law, but generate sometimes harmful collateral effects on customary uses. An effective certification must therefore takes into account all the factors likely to create tensions with the local populations.

Tropenbos (2009). Effects of forest certification on biodiversity.

Logging has an effect on biodiversity as it changes the vegetation cover and thus the ecosystems. This effect depends on the intensity of exploitation and the type of management, hence the necessity to consider and implement sustainable management of tropical forests. When biodiversity is under increasing threat, it seems fundamental to define forest areas where logging is prohibited in order to protect tropical fauna and flora. In the case of FSC certification, for example, the certified company has the obligation to identify, evaluate and preserve areas of High Conservation Values (HCV) in its management unit, in consultation with all stakeholders that may be concerned. Once these areas have been defined, the organization must ensure that its activities do not threaten them in order to extend its certification.

Reports thus show that certification processes have a reduced negative impact on forest ecosystems, and even contribute to their protection when the specifications are strictly respected. The preservation of unexploited areas benefits many species, although the effectiveness of this measure depends on the number of trees concerned.

The VIA initiative (2018), communicating the impact of sustainability standards

“Breaking Barriers in Communicating Sustainability Standards, Elisabeth Kenedy June 2019”

This is a VIA (Value Impact Analysis) project that aims to encourage companies to communicate evidence of their decisions to source sustainably managed wood to the general public. According to this project co-funded by the main actors in the forest products value chain industry (Tetra Pak, IKEA, Kingfisher, SCA, Essity and Precious Woods) and by the IDH, companies committed to sustainable development must create convincing communication based on evidence that would demonstrate the results of their commitments. Indeed, the results of the impacts on the sustainability standards they are committed to will contribute to improved practices in the future.

FSC impact calculator, calculate the impact of using FSC-certified tropical woods

The issue of importing certified tropical woods has been gaining momentum recently, yet many people are still unaware of the great benefits of using these woods. On several platforms you will find issues related to the use of sustainably managed forests, but it is difficult to quantify the benefits and consequences of doing so. FSC has therefore set up an impact measurement tool called the FSC EY Impact Calculator. This calculator calculates the different impacts on forests that the use of FSC-certified and non-FSC-certified tropical woods would have. The result of the tool is expressed in Euros using the eco-cost model developed at Delft University of Technology. This model calculates the costs to be assumed by the company in order to maintain environmental impacts at a sustainable level. For more information, see www.fsc.nl/impact.

These and other reports posted by the STTC are available here: http://www.europeansttc.com/impact/