News & Events

Fern releases new 'Forest Watch' Bulletin focused on countries negotiating VPAs with EU

The environmental NGO Fern and the online resource LoggingOff.info have published a special edition of Forest Watch focused on "VPA Update: A year on from FLEGT licensing".

The publication explores the situation in the countries negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union from a civil society perspective.

"A year after the first FLEGT licences from Indonesia entered the EU market (15 November 2016), it is expected that Ghana will soon become the second country to export FLEGT-licensed timber to the EU and the first in Africa," says the report.

"While this represents significant and highly symbolic progress, the greatest advance in the last six months has, however, been with the second plank of the FLEGT Action Plan: the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which makes it a criminal offence to put illegally sourced timber on the EU market."

The Forest Watch FLEGT VPA updates are produced in collaboration with the UK Department for International Development and the European Union.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/fern-releases-new-forest-watch-bulletin-focused-countries-negotiating-vpas-eu]

'Belgian Market is safe from illegal timber imports,' says Fedustria

In a press release dated 4 October 2017, the European Commission reported that "Belgium, where important quantities of timber are placed on the EU market, has not managed to carry out a significant number of verifications since the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) [...] Therefore, the Commission decided to raise the matter with the Belgian authorities by sending a letter of formal notice. Belgium has two months to reply."

Fedustria - the federation of the Belgian textile, woodworking and furniture industry - has now released a clarification note underlining that the Belgian Timber Importers are doing their utmost - in accordance with EUTR due diligence requirements - to mitigate the risks of illegal timber entering the Belgian market. In details:

  • Since the entry into force of the EUTR in 2013, Belgian timber importers, who are members of the federation, have taken full responsibility for inspecting and guaranteeing the legality of the products they import. This is essential for them to be able to continue supplying these products in the future. As such, they work together with all parties concerned, and take the necessary initiatives;
  • It is true that no intensive inspections have been carried out in Belgium in recent years. For years, the federation has been the requesting party in terms of expanding these inspections, and we are pleased to see that new inspectors were recruited at the start of September. However, the assertion by Greenpeace that the system does not work since no sanctions have been imposed to date goes way too far. On the contrary, it demonstrates that the audited companies are applying EUTR obligations effectively;
  • Not all timber that is unloaded in Antwerp (or other ports) is destined for the Belgian market and cleared by Belgian customs. The Belgian government is solely responsible for the timber and timber products which are actually placed on the market in Belgium, and not for timber in transit. The authorities in the country of destination are responsible in this respect.

"Fedustria and the timber importing member companies advocate open dialogue and cooperation with governments and stakeholders in order to contribute to the correct application of the obligations arising from the EU timber regulation," said the Federation.

"As a federation for both timber importing and timber processing companies, we would like to emphasise once again that we have every interest in managing forests in a sustainable manner. After all, our future is inherently linked to the protection and expansion of forests. Moreover, sustainable forest management - including timber harvest - contributes to the further development of producer countries."

For more info, it's possible to contact Filip De Jaeger, tel. 02 528 58 61, GSM 0486 898 184, e-mail [email protected] or Ingrid Hontis, tel. 02 528 58 46, e-mail [email protected]

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/belgium-safe-illegal-timber-imports-says-fedustria]

Autumn Budget: CTI urges Government to invest more in Infrastructure, Housing and Education

In its pre-Budget letter to the Chancellor Philip Hammond, the Confederation of Timber Industries outlines a set of measures that can contribute unlocking the potentialities of the Timber Sector and help the UK move towards a dynamic and low carbon economy. 

Roy Wakeman OBE, CTI Chairman, urges the Government to invest more in Education & Training, Logistic infrastructure and Housing to facilitate growth in production, trade and use of sustainable timber in construction and furniture.

"We have already seen in the past that a thriving Timber Industry creates a cascading beneficial effect on key-sectors such as construction, manufacturing and merchanting. For this reason, it's essential that the Government recognises our Industry as a vital part of the UK Economy and does whatever it takes to restore confidence in the market and boost investments."​

 

Timber Industry Budget Submission Autumn 2017

The timber industry forms a £9 billion supply chain in the UK, supporting some 150,000 skilled jobs across the country. In recent years we have seen steady and regular growth in UK timber production, timber imports and increased investment in downstream joinery and manufacturing businesses, supporting construction and RM&I work throughout the UK.

However, the recent depreciation of Sterling following the Brexit vote, along with the associated slowdown in the economy and erosion of consumer confidence is forecast to negatively affect this growth during the coming year.

Already, our forecasts for softwood imports in 2018 show growth of just 0.5% in volume against 2017. This is sharp drop from the 3.7% increase in growth from 2016 to 2017. Our forecasts have been shown to be accurate to within 1% margin over the past five years.

This is not simply a matter of lower imports which can then be taken up by UK production. The difference in grade, volume and quality of imported and home-grown timber means that our downstream joinery and manufacturing sectors – covering trussed rafters, staircases, windows, floors and other essential items - are largely dependent on imported produce.

These downstream sectors have seen increased investment over the past few years, putting on extra shifts, employing more skilled workers. Indeed, the offsite timber-frame construction sector has seen record growth, particularly in innovative housing solutions. Current output stands at just over 50,000 units per year. This could easily double to more than 100,000 units per year if the right long-term conditions are in place, and businesses are keen to invest and expand further.

The loss of confidence in the wider economy is putting that investment on hold.

However, there are a number of measures we believe would help unlock this growth:

  • Government should provide a clear focus on ensuring suitable investment in ports and logistics infrastructure to clear customs bottlenecks and alleviate concerns that the bureaucracy will grind industry to a halt and restrict the import of crucial materials. The potential slowdown in deliveries adds cost and time to an otherwise lean supply chain. 
  • Government must ensure support is there for local authorities to make much needed investments and improvements in their housing stock.  Activity in public housing RM&I sector fell 21.7% between July 2010 and July 2017 and is expected to fall again next year.
  • Skills are vital to productivity. Government must maintain a careful eye on its Apprentice funding reforms and support for Further Education. Inadequate careers advice for school pupils and a failure to invest in vocational subjects at schools mean our woodworking and wider construction industries are experiencing a shortfall in new home-grown personnel. Campaigns such as ‘Wow I Made That’, designed by industry and being rolled out in schools, highlight what a vibrant and creative sector this is to work in, but Government should offer businesses tax breaks that incentivise the recruitment of young people.
  • The timber industry is poised to unlock housing and deliver a sustainable and world-class construction sector. We regularly host teams of visiting architects touring the timber architecture we have designed and built in the UK. To continue this, the Government should recognise the innovation that has been driven through the low-carbon agenda, and ensure that all building projects consider their whole-life carbon impacts. Fundamentally, the Government needs to put direct investment into a sustained long-term house building program that gives companies the confidence they need to invest in capacity.

We hope that you find these points useful. We recognise this is a trying time for the Government itself and the economy as a whole. The timber industry would like to support you in providing solutions to these problems wherever possible.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/autumn-budget-cti-urges-government-invest-more-infrastructures-housing-and-education]

Supporters of Fire Door Safety Week Campaign reach all-time high

This year, the Fire Door Safety Week Campaign almost doubled the number of supporters, reaching around 17.7 million people.

The campaign is run annually by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), BWF-Certifire scheme and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme (FDIS), in partnership with the Government’s Fire Kills campaign, and took place from 25 September to 1 October this year.

The 2017 Campaign attracted its highest number of supporters ever, including 273 organisations from all parts of social housing, the private rented housing sector, the construction supply chain, fire and building consultancies and local fire and rescue services. This was a 54% increase on last year.

Publicity for the campaign resulted in more than 350 pieces of media coverage, including in the Daily Telegraph and the Mirror newspapers, and 16 broadcast items including on Radio 5 Live, LBC, BBC Radio Leeds and talkRADIO.

The media coverage so far this year is estimated to have been actively read by 2.7 million people, with another 11.4 million tuning in to broadcast items and 3.6 million touched by the social media campaign. The total reach of 17.7 million is almost double that of last year.

Hannah Mansell, BWF technical manager and Fire Door Safety Week spokesperson, commented on the success of the campaign: “The noise around this year’s campaign has been resounding, beating all our previous records by a considerable margin. We saw great engagement from supporters and across social media in the run up, during and in the aftermath of the campaign."

“But the work carries on, and we still need to keep up that momentum. Following on from the Grenfell Tower tragedy our main focus was on high-rise tower blocks and other forms of shared accommodation. We wanted to raise awareness among tenants and landlords about the vital importance of fire safety in flats and apartments. Nobody can claim that job is yet done.

“The campaign does not just take place one week a year and then nothing happens until the following autumn; Fire Door Safety Week is a year-round campaign. The BWF and its members are involved still in running awareness events, in training fire and rescue personnel, and in supporting councils, housing associations and tenants all across the country.

“We will continue to work tirelessly to raise awareness about the importance of fire doors and to get out there to improve the safety standards of buildings as we look ahead to Fire Door Safety Week 2018.”

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/supporters-fire-door-safety-week-reach-all-time-high-year]

New Charter for Trees to be launched at Lincoln Castle on 6 November 2017

On Monday 6 November 2017, on the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People will be launched at Lincoln Castle – home to one of the two remaining 1217 Charters of the Forest. It will then rest in the Lincolnshire Archives.

After a gathering on Castle Hill at around 5pm, a lantern procession into Lincoln Castle will unveil the Tree Charter Champion Pole representing the Tree Charter. The pole is carved by artist Simon Clements from Grown in Britain oak, showcasing words by poet Harriet Fraser. Visitors can also view the Charter for Trees, Woods and People, written in oak gall ink by calligrapher Patricia Lovett, alongside the 1217 Charter of the Forest in the Castle's Magna Carta vault.

Following this will be an opportunity to sign the Tree Charter, talks at Speakers’ Corner, live music, woodcrafts, artwork by Assemble, and a historical exhibition of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.

The call for a Tree Charter was initiated in 2015 by the Woodland Trust in response to the crisis facing trees and woods in the UK. It aims at "building a people-powered movement for trees." More than 70 organisations (including the Confederation of Timber Industries) and 300 local community groups answered the call and helped to collect over 60,000 tree stories from people across the UK, demonstrating the important role that trees play in their lives. These stories were read and shared, and helped to define the 10 Principles of the Tree Charter, ensuring that it stands for every tree and every person in the UK.

  1. Nature: Thriving habitats for diverse species;
  2. Planting: Planting for the future
  3. Arts & Heritage: Celebrating the cultural impacts of trees
  4. Utility & Livelihoods: A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
  5. Protection: Better protection for important trees and woods
  6. Planning: Enhancing new developments with trees
  7. Health & Wellbeing: Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
  8. People & Access to Trees: Access to trees for everyone
  9. Coping with Threats: Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
  10. Environment: Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees

Over 100,000 people have already pledged their support to the Tree Charter. Click here to sign the petition.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/new-charter-trees-be-launched-lincoln-castle-6-november-2017]

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