Proper management of tropical forests could be an asset for the planet, says ATIBT
On the first anniversary of its Fair&Precious brand, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) underlines some of the lesser-known facts about forest management while remaining committed to promoting a sustainable tropical timber industry.
Sustainable forest management protects against deforestation
When we talk about the exploitation of tropical forests, many people associate it with deforestation. They imagine thousands of hectares of virgin forests destroyed, century-old trees burned to the ground and nature disfigured forever – all for the sole purpose of creating agricultural land or grazing to obtain land. Yet there is a major difference between deforestation and sustainable forest management.
Robert Hunink, President of ATIBT explains: “European consumers misunderstand the role of forest managers in attributing tropical deforestation, mainly due to the "mining" of forest soil fertility for agriculture or firewood. Through the Fair&Precious brand, they will learn that the actors of our ecosystem do not plunder, but on the contrary only pick one or two trees per hectare, on the same plot, once every thirty years."
To date, only companies certified in legal and sustainable forest management (certifications are issued by FSC or PEFC and controlled by certifying bodies such as Bureau Veritas, SGS Quailfor or Rainforest Alliance) can benefit from the Fair&Precious brand. In addition to these certification standards, they must comply with the country’s applicable forest code (after validation of control procedures and obtaining legal certifications). The certification is then valid for a period of five years.
The ratio of trees harvested is far lower than those left to grow naturally
At present, the vast majority of tropical timber comes directly from the virgin forest (without harvesting control) or from large plantations which are gradually replacing virgin forests. The first is simply illegal poaching, while the second is a monoculture of exotic tree varieties that degrade the soil, threaten biodiversity and accelerate climate change.
The Fair&Precious programme offers a sustainable alternative: preserving forest resources by harvesting less than its natural increase. Young trees, as well as seed trees, are systematically left standing, since they contribute to the renewal of the forest.
Forest managers create real local economic and social development
Unlike many unscrupulous players, Fair&Precious members are committed to working for local economic and social development by contributing to generate income for people and by providing them with access to services such as education, medical care and housing. Local processing is thus favoured and training in various forestry and wood trades is provided by the network’s member concession holders. By providing employment and resources to local populations, they are fighting against exodus and urban concentration.
The mission of forest managers is also to fight poaching
With its sustainable approach, the Fair&Precious brand also aims to protect fauna and flora, by ensuring that animals’ habitats are made safe. In blocking the illegal trafficking of forest products, they are also able to develop programmes to combat poaching and restock endangered species.
Tropical wood is in fact the most environmentally friendly material available
Today, in the absence of a guarantee, consumers often turn away from tropical wood and choose materials with a much lower environmental performance record. Fair&Precious aims to restore confidence among tropical wood users and to promote the acquisition of products from sustainably managed tropical forests. The exceptional technical performance of tropical woods and their durability properties are highlighted. Indeed, these materials have excellent resistance to external environmental factors and require no chemical treatment.
Tropical wood is particularly useful and efficient in the construction of garden decking, interior and exterior furniture, shipbuilding, etc. Fair&Precious’ objective is not to massively increase volume sales, given its commitment to preserving the forests, but to enable these “precious" woods to regain their true place on the market.