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Wood Products Prices in The UK & Holland

01-15th November 2014


Report from Europe  

 Bridging the tropical communication gap
An 80m ekki bridge made a fitting programme illustration
for the international forum of the Association Technique
Internationale des Bois Tropicaux (ATIBT) held in
Amsterdam in early November.

The bridge uses wood from the certified Cameroon
concessions of Dutch producer trader and construction
specialist Wijma and now features in a YouTube video
highlighting the sustainable credentials and technical
strengths of tropical timber.
See: (

The theme of the ATIBT conference itself was
„Strengthening Trust in Tropical Wood¡¯. This, said
Director General Ralph Ridder, meant bridging the gap
between persisting popular misconceptions about the
tropical industry, notably its automatic association with
deforestation, and the reality of latest developments in
sustainable forest management, legality verification and
industry monitoring and tracking.

It also required education of the market about tropical
timber‟s technical potential, and how using sustainably
produced material can combat deforestation by
incentivizing forest maintenance.

¡°This means greater coordination across the sector, and,
critically better communication, something we‟ve been
traditionally very poor at as an industry,¡± Mr Ridder said.
¡°We must get the facts and positive stories out to
customers, specifiers and the media.¡±

The good news, underlined by the two-day conference,
was that the sector is getting better at telling its story and
developing strategies and tools that make it more
transparent and provide better, more accessible data about
its operation, and particularly its environmental

Pan-industry co-operation is growing
The forum also demonstrated that pan-industry cooperation
is growing. The 150-strong audience was drawn
from consumer and producer countries worldwide. Besides
the private sector, there was also strong representation
from government bodies, NGOs, monitoring organisations
and initiatives such as REDD+ and FLEGT.

Mr Ridder also stressed the broad spread of donor bodies
and other supporters backing the meeting. These included
key sponsors the European Timber Trade Federation and
IDH - the Sustainable Trade Initiative.

The latter is the Dutch body behind the Sustainable
Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC), the international
industry, NGO and government initiative focused on
boosting European certified tropical timber sales.

The importance to producers of communicating the case
for using tropical timber to consumer countries was
stressed by Dopl¨¦ Claude Soro of the Côte d‟Ivoire
Forestry Ministry.

¡°Forestry and timber are main foundations of our
economy, so it‟s vital our commitment to sustainability is
publicised,¡± he said. ¡°We‟re strengthening transparency
and governance, with new anti-corruption guidelines, bans
on exporting certain species, interdictions on logging
above the 8th parallel and our 20% 2020 target for
increasing tree cover.

We‟re also aiming to complete our EU Forest Law
Enforcement Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership
Agreement (FLEGT VPA) negotiations by 2016.
Working with customers, we need to communicate such
initiatives to increase confidence in tropical timber. It‟s a
priority if, as a developing country, we‟re to emerge onto
the international market.¡±

Pro-active measures to generate demand
Kees Rade, director general climate and environment at
the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, said that
besides insisting that tropical timber producers supply
sustainable, legal material, the industry must generate

¡°Tropical timber is losing ground as consumer country
companies, without all the facts, believe corporate social
responsibility dictates they must substitute it with
alternative materials,¡± he said. ¡°That‟s why the STTC and
the Netherlands Green Deal, an alliance between the
timber sector, NGOs, government, end users and retailers,
were formed.

The goal is to educate consumers about sustainable
tropical timber and help rebuild the market. It must be a
dual strategy; increasing sustainable tropical timber
production and sales.¡±

IDH Programme Director Ted van der Put said that
mounting pressure on tropical countries to convert
forestland to other uses, notably growing plantation crops,
made the task of supporting the international tropical
timber market even more urgent.

¡°We must create a strong business case for sustainable
tropical forest management and timber production because
the case for conversion is huge,¡± he said.

Key tools for this identified by the STTC were public and
corporate procurement policy, and, Mr van der Put agreed,
market education. ¡°Fear of tropical timber still persists,
from governments down,¡± he said. ¡°It‟s the biggest enemy,
not just of the timber trade, but of the forest. If there‟s no
demand as a result, forest conversion increases.¡±

Targeting architects and designers
Various presenters highlighted the role architects can play
in strengthening the tropical timber market. Not only could
they increase use in construction, their work could also
showcase tropical timber‟s aesthetic and technical
possibilities more widely.

An architect, Machiel Spaan of Amsterdam-based M3H,
was among the speakers and delegates visited one of his
housing projects in the city, featuring untreated batibatra
(Sucupira Amarela) cladding.

¡°Sustainability is a core focus of my profession, so you
must engage us in dialogue about sustainable tropical
timber production,¡± he said. ¡°We also need to know about
carbon footprint and specific use benefits, and to be shown
existing inspirational projects incorporating it.¡±

UN FAO senior economist Adrian Whiteman suggested
that fiscal measures could also boost the tropical timber
business. Lowering VAT on certified sustainable material
would be complex, while use of tariffs might be
considered protectionist. ¡°But tax breaks for companies to
set up sustainable timber supply chains may be a viable
option the industry could lobby for,¡± he said.

VPA and EUTR: problems and progress
The forum also addressed problems and progress in
implementation of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and
EU FLEGT VPA programme. Chris Beeko, timber
validation director at the Ghana Forestry Commission,
acknowledged his country had found the VPA process
more complex than anticipated. ¡°We thought it would take
two years,¡± he said. ¡°But we had no example to follow
and we‟ve been trailing entirely new systems and tracking
technologies. Compulsory involvement of a wide spread
of stakeholders is also time consuming.¡±

Mr Beeko would not commit to a date when Ghana, one of
the front-runners with Indonesia in the programme, would
be issuing FLEGT licences. But he said major progress
had been made. ¡°For example, with experience and use of
new monitoring approaches and IT, we‟ve cut time taken
for VPA legality assessments from three weeks to two
days,¡± he said.

While issuing licences was a key goal, he added, it was
also important to stress the value of the entire FLEGT
process and what it has already achieved in signatory
countries in terms of improving forestry practice, and
increasing transparency and stakeholder engagement.

FLEGT needs to engage private sector
Francois Busson of the EU Development and Cooperation
Directorate General agreed, but said there were still
shortcomings in FLEGT implementation. ¡°The private
sector has to be more involved,¡± he said. ¡°They need to be
engaged more in negotiations and given more technical

ATIBT echoed this view and FLEGT specialist B¨¦r¨¦nice
Castadot described its private sector engagement work
with the UNIBOIS alliance of small to medium sized
enterprises in Congo. This is an ongoing EU-FLEGT
FAO backed project to help SMEs meet VPA
requirements, which, said Ms Castadot, has potential to be
applied elsewhere.

The private sector and particularly SMEs also need greater
support satisfying the requirements of the EUTR,
according to speakers and delegates. Reporting on her
EUTR impact study in Congo Brazzaville, consultant
Caroline Duhesme said a key issue for timber suppliers
was inconsistency of due diligence approaches taken by
European companies. ¡°There‟s still a lack of
understanding of the regulatory framework in the EU
trade, so suppliers face a huge variety of requests for
information, and details that aren‟t required under the
EUTR,¡± she said.

Le Commerce du Bois director Eric Boilley agreed that
more central EUTR guidance and support was required by
EU operator companies. ¡°In particular they need the EU
itself to provide information on relevant producer country
forestry legislation.¡±

New approaches based on new technologies
Other presentations focused on new tools and technologies
that could ultimately assist implementation of FLEGT
VPAs, the EUTR and other market legality requirements,
and also aid compliance.

Robbie Weich of Tradelink explained Sisflora2, the new
tracking system developed by Brazil‟s environment
agency IBAMA with Par¨¢ environment secretariat SEMA.
Set for launch next year, this involves embedding radio
frequency ID chips in the tree so logs can be tracked to the
sawmill. ¡°This will combat the practice of loggers reusing
documents issued against previous timber consignments,¡±
he said. ¡°And the technology could be readily used in
other regions.¡±

The World Resources Institute (WRI) gave latest news on
its two new online systems for combating deforestation
and aiding timber legality and sustainability verification;
Global Forest Watch (GFW) and the Forest Transparency
Initiative (FTI).

Launched in February, GFW (
is being developed in association with Google, with UN
and US, UK and Norwegian national government backing.
Using satellite imaging, it maps and monitors forest area
worldwide, identifying impacts of timber concessions,
fires and land conversion. Monthly global forest coverage
reports go down to a resolution of 500m (soon to be 250m)
and annual reports to 30m.

¡°This data can be invaluable in combating illegal logging,
but also supporting buyers‟ due diligence illegality risk
assessment,¡± said WRI Africa senior manager Matthew
Steil, ¡°The aim is to survey at ever lower resolutions more
frequently for even more precise real time monitoring.¡±

Currently a pilot project focused on the Republic of Congo
(Brazzaville), the FTI pools data from national timber
sector legislation, to forestry and timber company legality
and sustainability verification, and even tax records.

This is cross referenced with relevant information from
other sources worldwide, including NGOs, GFW, and
market legality requirement administrators and
enforcement agencies, such as EUTR Competent
Authorities, creating a ¡°powerful tool for supporting
legality assurance systems¡±.

¡°It will identify companies operating legally and according
to recognized social and environmental norms and those
that aren‟t,¡± said Mr Steil. The aim, he added, is for FTI
to extend to the DRC in the next nine months, then further
afield, dependent on funding.

Timber DNA database
The ATIBT also announced its project to create a timber
DNA database for central African producer members. The
concept is being developed in association with DNAtracking
specialists Double Helix, and Germany‟s Th¨¹nen

The goal is to provide incontrovertible evidence that
timber originates from a specific source, with the database
logging genetic reference information on principal
commercially traded species from ATIBT members‟
certified concessions.

¡°Utilising cutting edge genetics to determine legality will
support members‟ long-term access to markets with
increasingly strict legality and other procurement
requirements, like the US and Europe,¡± said Mr Ridder. ¡°It
could also potentially secure a price premium for their

Double Helix estimates the cost of building DNA
reference data for 10 species across 10 300,000ha
concessions at US$3 million. ¡°The project is at an early
stage, but we‟re now actively seeking donors,¡± said Mr

On ATIBT‟s wider mission to strengthen trust in tropical
timber, Mr Ridder and his team said goals included
expanding membership, possibly establishing offices in
Africa, and increasing collaboration with other bodies in
the sector worldwide.

Having recruited public relations expert Tullia Baldassarri
last year, and relaunched its website and newsletter, it also
plans to step up communications. As a basis for this it is
now undertaking a survey of consumer perceptions of
tropical timber, starting in France, with the aim of rolling
it out to other countries.

For more see;


LM       Loyale Merchant, a grade of log parcel  Cu.m         Cubic Metre
QS        Qualite Superieure    Koku         0.278 Cu.m or 120BF
CI          Choix Industriel                                                       FFR           French Franc
CE         Choix Economique                                                        SQ              Sawmill Quality
CS         Choix Supplimentaire      SSQ            Select Sawmill Quality
FOB      Free-on-Board     FAS            Sawnwood Grade First and
KD        Kiln Dry                               Second 
AD        Air Dry        WBP           Water and Boil Proof
Boule    A Log Sawn Through and Through MR              Moisture Resistant
              the boards from one log are bundled                      pc         per piece      
              together                      ea                each      
BB/CC  Grade B faced and Grade C backed MBF           1000 Board Feet          
              Plywood   MDF           Medium Density Fibreboard
BF        Board Foot F.CFA         CFA Franc        
Sq.Ft     Square Foot              Price has moved up or down

Source:ITTO'  Tropical Timber Market Report

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