News & Events

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. 

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/proper-management-tropical-forests-could-be-asset-planet-says-atibt]

TRADA’s response to the Government’s proposed ban which has implications for CLT

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other forms of structural timber construction are not only here to stay but are actually set to increase in popularity. After all, CLT attracts architects, contractors, clients and more for a multitude of distinct reasons. Some are aesthetic, others include cost reduction and programme savings – and, for those concerned about climate change, CLT sequesters carbon and stores it for the life of the building.

For these reasons TRADA believes that, whilst its understanding of the Government’s conclusion to the consultation suggests that CLT will therefore be prevented from being used in certain situations, this does not have to be of detriment to the structural timber market. The vast majority of CLT projects delivered in the UK to date are six-storeys and under – which will not be impacted upon by these restrictions. Important markets currently utilising the material, such as schools, will therefore remain unaffected.

What this proposed ban does mean, however, is a necessity for creativity if we are to continue making the best use of timber as a structural material. We must, as an industry, determine methods by which we can build above six-storeys using structural timber – but not on the outer walls. Glulam post and beam is already one potential solution to this challenge.

The Government’s report remains fairly vague as to the use of BS 8414 as a method of proving compliance. TRADA will therefore seek to establish the exact situation with regards to this.

In general, TRADA believes that the consultation was ambiguously worded, particularly in regards to whether the consultation questions related to cladding only or to the entire wall assembly. Due to this, we found it very difficult to know how to answer many of the questions – and we believe this ambiguity will have caused difficulty for others too.

Read the document Government Response to the Consultation on Banning the Use of Combustible Materials in the External Walls of High-Rise Residential Buildings here

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/trada%E2%80%99s-response-government%E2%80%99s-proposed-ban-which-has-implications-clt]

André de Boer passes ETTF lead role to Thomas Goebel

André de Boer is stepping down as Secretary General of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) in 2019, handing over the reins to Thomas Goebel, Chief Executive of German Timber Trade Federation GD Holz.

The first quarter of next year will see a transition process, with Mr Goebel [left pictured] officially taking on the role by April 1, combining it with his position at GD Holz,. The ETTF secretariat is also moving to Berlin.

A commercial lawyer by profession, Mr de Boer took over at the helm at the ETTF ten years ago after its formation from an amalgamation of European timber trade bodies. Prior to that he was Managing Director of the Netherlands Timber Trade Federation (VVNH) for 20 years.

His time at the ETTF, he said, has been both challenging and exciting. “The European timber importing sector in this period has had to adapt to major changes; concentration of the industry and a decline in tropical timber trade, as well as the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation,” he said. “But the trade has evolved and moved with the times, and at the same time the ETTF has gained relevance throughout the international market as advocate of a legal and sustainable, but also a commercially significant and dynamic industry.

“We are now an integral part of the conversation on climate change and the development of a low carbon bioeconomy. There’s also recognition at government level that a commercially viable forestry and timber industry is integral to maintenance of the forest resource; it’s widely accepted that it’s a case of use it or lose it.”

Mr de Boer said now was the time to hand over to a new team to take the organisation forward and exploit the opportunities to grow the European timber market.

Mr Goebel said he looked forward to his new role. “The ETTF has equipped itself well to master the challenges and realize the opportunities to come for the timber trade and is well placed to further strengthen representation of its members interests,” he said.

In another strategic move for the future of the ETTF, its annual general meeting earlier this year decided that it should join the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries, Brussels-based CEI-Bois, where a key focus will be helping develop a new timber trade segment.

“CEI Bois, with its close connection to the EU in Brussels, will further serve the interests of the trade through this separate trade pillar, in which the ETTF will play a leading role,” said Mr Goebel. “It’s decisive that we develop this facility.”

At present the ETTF has 18 member associations in 16 countries.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/andr%C3%A9-de-boer-passes-ettf-lead-role-thomas-goebel]

EFI study analyses contribution of wood products to climate change mitigation

A new science-policy report from the European Forest Institute (EFI) demonstrates that using wood-based products to substitute greenhouse gas intensive-materials can have important climate benefits.

The authors reviewed 51 existing studies to provide an up-to-date synthesis of scientific knowledge on the greenhouse gas emissions of products made from wood and from alternative materials, over their entire lifetime.

While the positive role of forests in climate change mitigation is generally well perceived, the contribution of wood products to mitigation is much less known and understood. Current reporting on greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and related processes does not attribute the substitution benefits of wood-based products directly to the forest sector. However, this information is important when developing optimal strategies on how forests and the forest sector can maximise their contribution to climate change mitigation. 

The study concludes that for each ton of C in wood products that substitute non-wood products, average emissions are reduced by approximately 1.2 ton C. Expressed in a different unit, this corresponds to about 2.2 ton of CO2 emissions reduction per ton of wood product. The substitution effects vary significantly, depending on the wood product and technology that is considered and the methods used to estimate emissions.

The study coordinator, Pekka Leskinen, said: “It is also crucial to remember that the greenhouse gas substitution impact of wood products is only one component in climate change mitigation. The substitution factor alone should not form the basis of policies, since the overall climate impacts of forests depend also on forest carbon sinks, forest soil and carbon stored in wood products.”

The study also identifies limitations and important research gaps that should be covered to have a better understanding of the substitution effects – for example there is a lack of knowledge on the climate impacts of emerging wood-based products like textiles and biochemicals.

Download the study here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/efi-study-analyses-contribution-wood-products-climate-change-mitigation]

CTI Blog - The Case for Wood

This blog post is by CTI Director and TTF MD David Hopkins.

 

Making the case for wood to an audience of architects, designers and manufacturers at the recent Wood Awards in London, David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), left nobody in doubt as to the importance of wood as the key construction material for many reasons:

“The Wood Awards provides a clear picture, a clear distillation of many of the central arguments for the use of wood across multiple markets – particularly around sustainability, around skills and skilled jobs, around innovation, and around housing.

"First is the environment and sustainability. We face multiple issues around the theme of climate change. Not least is the disappearance of forest landscapes around the world. The basic fact is: if we want to keep forests, we have to increase demand for forests. To do that, we need to increase the use of the products from forests and increase their basic value.

“I was a speaker recently at the tropical timber conference in Paris. At this conference there was an illuminating set of satellite images showing deforestation in several tropical countries. They showed forest cover in the 1980s and then forest cover in 2017. It was depressing. Huge tracts disappeared, gone. But, what was interesting is that most of the areas that had been felled were “protected areas” – conservation areas, national parks, wildlife refuges and so on. The areas that were still standing, that showed unbroken canopies and the greatest forest cover were those with commercial licences and a management plan for timber harvesting. Those that massively increase the value of the trees that are standing and can therefore provide more money to those people that depend on them. It seems counter intuitive, but those areas with commercial licences had more trees, more wildlife and more biodiversity than those areas which were supposedly protected. The people could appreciate the value more.

“At a European level, we have one of the most intense forestry sectors in the world – roughly 5% of forest cover and about 25% of all industrial production. And because of that demand, our forests are growing. We use something like 65% of the annual growth each year, with large swathes untouched. It provides a massive carbon sink, ecosystem services, water services, biodiversity and the basis for a thriving bio-economy. But, it only works because of demand for the product. Demand for responsibly sourced wood means demand for responsibly managed forests and forest growth.

“When you move that on, you see you’re not just dealing with a low carbon material, but that then this becomes the basis of very low energy, low-carbon manufacturing. All of the products and entries you see at the Wood Awards will have been made in a manufacturing outlet, whether it is a ‘furniture factory’ or a ‘housing factory’. Yet to manufacture these items from wood requires far less energy and therefore has a far lower carbon footprint than any other competing material. If we want to have our low-carbon revolution, we need low-carbon materials and low-carbon manufacturing. Timber helps us achieve both.

“The timber sector affords a lot of career pathways in multiple directions. As trade bodies we want to see a great expansion in the downstream timber manufacturing sector – in furniture, joinery, timber frame and housing – but this will never happen without skilled workers.  So our thanks and support go to the Carpenters Company and the Building Crafts College – and other centres like these throughout the UK – for without these skilled students coming through we don’t have a future.

“Finally, the Wood Awards highlight the way in which timber can help solve the housing crisis in the UK. Timber frame is the fastest growing method of housebuilding now in the UK, accounting for about 28% of all new build last year. So, my appreciation of the awards is not just for its integrity and commitment to aesthetics, beauty and craftsmanship, but for me the aesthetics of the final entries comes as the icing on the cake. It is the result of growing forests around the world, adding more to nature than you are taking away, of creating and valuing skilled jobs, developing a high-value, low-carbon innovative manufacturing sector and, through all of that, creating objects and buildings of beauty and making the world a generally better, healthier, more sustainable and beautiful place to live. 

“And that certainly deserves an Award!”

The full list of the awarded projects – including photos and technical info – is available here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-case-wood]

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