News & Events

Companies need Governments' support to halt deforestation, says Fern survey

The environmental NGO Fern has issued a new report - How businesses are meeting commitments to end deforestation - asking Governments to do more to help companies whose products drive tropical deforestation.

Fern interviewed 15 major companies involved in the production and trade of four agricultural commodities which are causing the most of forest loss worldwide: palm oil, timber, cocoa and rubber.

The survey covered big name Western users and traders of agricultural commodities, such as Unilever, Nestlé, Cargill and IKEA. It also included producer companies based in developing countries which are not household names but nonetheless have considerable influence, such as APP (Asia Pulp and Paper), Sime Darby and Golden Agri-Resources

Areas where companies wanted government support in their efforts to end deforestation included:

  • having clear and consistent policies on customary land tenure;
  • better and more effectively implemented policies on land use planning and the allocation of concessions;
  • stronger protection of forests that are rich in carbon and have high conservation value;
  • tougher enforcement of existing laws designed to protect forests.

Failures of government regulation and enforcement were specifically identified as problems.

Other major issues reported in the survey included:

  • In general, the companies interviewed believed that global targets for reducing deforestation set out in the UN’s New York Declaration on Forests, and by industry bodies such as the Consumer Goods Forum, would not be met. Companies did, however, expect to deliver on promises they have made about their own operations. Achieving targets for cocoa and rubber was seen as more difficult than for timber and palm oil.
  • Social issues, including disputes over land tenure and ownership, were viewed by many companies as critical and far more difficult to resolve than environmental issues. The lack of clarity over ‘who owns the land’ was seen as a particular problem.
  • Some companies had experienced problems with investors being more focused on short-term profits; none reported pressure from investors to increase their levels of ambition.
  • The cost to companies of meeting their commitments, although difficult to calculate, are seen as significant but not excessive for large companies.
  • Systematic external monitoring of overall company commitments and progress towards them is not common, but some companies are developing systems.


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AHEC presents "Too Good to Waste", the installation that celebrates sustainability in hardwood

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) has presented a new interactive installation - "Too Good Waste" - to be unveiled at Universitá degli Studi di Milano for the Milan Design Week taking place from 3 to 15 April 2017.

This bold timber installation - designed by Benedetta Tagliabue of EMBT and crafted by furniture makers Benchmark - comprises four individual and unique pieces, wrapped around the statuesque pillars of the entrance to the Aula Magna auditorium, transforming at the hand of visitors to reveal hidden pieces of fine furniture.

Too Good to Waste was created using "species that are not getting the value they should but actually are beautiful, versatile and useful woods for craftsmen", explains Sean Sutcliffe, co-founder of Benchmark. The installation features a combination of red oak, cherry, maple and tulipwood. Moreover it was graded using elements that "10 years ago would have been unthinkable in high end furniture" such as knots and sapwood.

David Venables, AHEC European Director, said: “So many wood products available to us are limited to certain colours and hardwood species; it’s depriving consumers and designers the freedom and excitement to experience what comes from using much more of the material that is available.”

"We’re tapping into an important concept that’s very relevant in today’s society: how do we make more use of materials that may not be our first choice in order to be more sustainable? This project aims to open a dialogue on these topics. Why limit oneself? Why be traditional? Why only use materials we think we like? Let’s be more imaginative!"

Benedetta Tagliabue added: “We wanted to re-create this concept in a playful and modern way by creating a wall full of surprises, where the people who inhabit the wall will be real."

"We hope that visitors, surprised by this installation, will want to interact with it, and that they will discover and use the pieces of furniture it hides: seats, tables, mirrors… We hope that their curiosity will make this piece very animated.”

For more information about the project click here.

A photo gallery is also available here.


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Trees and forests recycle water and help address climate change, new research proves

A new research paper, entitled "Trees, forests and water: Cool insights for a hot world", shows that forests and trees play a major role on water cycles and cooler temperatures, contributing to food security and climate change adaptation.

The study - published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) - points at the important effects of trees on helping to retain water on the ground and to produce cooling moisture, which in turn have a positive impact on food security and climate change adaptation

Scientists suggest that the global conversation on trees, forests and climate needs to be turned on its head: the direct effects of trees on climate through rainfall and cooling may be more important than their well-studied capacity of storing carbon. 

“The role of trees widens,” said Dr Vincent Gitz, Director of Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). “This is very important in the context of the Paris Agreement, which recognized climate change is not only about mitigation, but also about adaptation.”

“The influence of trees on water cycles has important consequences on the global agenda for food security and climate change adaptation, at different scales,”
Dr Gitz explained. “With trees, there is no tradeoff between adaptation and mitigation, but a synergy.”

“Carbon sequestration is a co-benefit of the precipitation-recycling and cooling power of trees. As trees process and redistribute water, they simultaneously cool planetary surfaces,”
said Dr David Ellison, lead author of the study.

“Some of the more refined details of how forests affect rainfall are still being discussed among scientists of different disciplines and backgrounds," Dr Ellison remarked, "but the direct relevance of trees and forests for protecting and intensifying the hydrologic cycle, associated cooling and the sharing of atmospheric moisture with downwind locations is beyond reasonable doubt.”

Research authors will participate in a two-day virtual symposium hosted by FTA, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, on the occasion of the International Day of Forests (March 21) and World Water Day (March 22).

This virtual symposium will serve to discuss the findings of the paper and pave the way to new areas of research on the interconnection among forests, water and climate.


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Wood Awards 2017: Call for entries now open

The Wood Awards: Excellence in British Architecture and Product Design launched its 2017 call for entries yesterday with a drinks reception at the Building Centre in London.

Speakers included David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation, and Councillor Vincent Stops, chair of the planning committee at the London Borough of Hackney, home to one of the greatest concentrations of urban timber architecture in the UK.

Established in 1971, the Wood Awards recognises, encourages and promotes outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood in projects throughout the UK. The Wood Awards’ elite independent judging panel not only judges all submitted entries but also visits the shortlisted projects in person, making the Wood Awards a uniquely rigorous competition.

With permission from the owner, anyone associated with a building or product completed in the last two years, can enter. Buildings must be located within the UK whilst furniture and other products must have been either designed or manufactured in the UK. The competition is free to enter and entrants may submit more than one project. There are no restrictions on the size or budget of a project.

The call for entries will close on Friday 26 May 2017. The Wood Awards shortlist will be announced in July and the winners will be announced at the Wood Awards ceremony on 21st November 2017 at Carpenters’ Hall in London. The shortlisted projects will be on display at the ceremony and during the London Design Festival in September.

For more information. email [email protected] or [email protected]


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BWF to run Apprenticeship Levy Webinar on Tuesday 21 March 2017

In the light of the upcoming new Government Apprenticeship Levy in April, the British Woodworking Federation will run an Apprenticeship Levy Webinar on Tuesday 21st March 2017.

The levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill over £3 million each year, to invest in apprenticeships and will be applied as from the first payroll in April 2017.

BWF session will be run with John Henry, from the Electrical Distributors Association’s Apprenticeship Training Agency, and there will be the opportunity for Q+A.

In details, the seminar will cover:  

·        What is the Apprenticeship Levy and how does it work?

·        How do you access your levy funds for apprenticeship training?

·        What happens if you use all your levy funds?

·        How do you register to get your levy funds?

Interested parties can register for the webinar here and will subsequently be sent a calendar request from Dave Campbell, BWF Membership & Training Director, with the instructions.

To receive more information, contact [email protected]


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