We have become very much aware and concerned about the environment. The world’s natural forests cannot sustainably meet the soaring global demand for timber products under current forest management practices.
According to the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), approximately 24.7 million acres of fast-wood plantations or commercially planted forests exist worldwide. Each year around 2.5 million acres of land is converted to fast wood plantation forests. While intensive production is essential to meet global demand and take pressure off the world’s forests, there can be significant negative impacts of these plantations this is because some have been created from the conversion of high conservation value natural forests, and some have resulted in significant social and environmental impacts.
WWF believes that demand for responsible forest products in international trade can provide enormous incentives for sustainable forest management. However, in the absence of appropriate forest management policies, environmental and social safeguards, and responsible demand, trade can negatively impact forest conservation. The voice of the consumer will become louder and stronger and will not be ignored. We have also seen the rise of whistleblowing initiatives where individuals can voice concern about the sources of any timber and related products to allow offenders details to passed to various organisations for further investigation, e.g. law enforcement or monitoring organisations, sustainability campaigners, lobby organisations e.g.
We need to ensure that we use timber from forests that are legal and from responsibly and sustainably managed. We need to take into consideration the care of forests not just for today but also benefit future generations of plant, animal and people. Timber or wood consumers have much information at their fingertips, we have not just seen this pressure from the Regulatory requirements like EUTR or the US Lacey Act of 1900 (revised in 2008 to combat illegal logging) but now portals available from Organisations like :
Nature Economy People Connected organisation- NEPCon, European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF), and ATIBT (Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux – International Tropical Timber Technical Association)
All these help consumers mitigate risk to ensure that they use legally and or sustainable timber. They give ratings to countries on the risks on legality or sustainability and or both; they have considered various aspects such as:
A) Timber on the CITES List (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) an international agreement between governments with an aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need. CITES-listed species can only be traded legally with an FSC Certificate.
- Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
- Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.
- Appendix III This Appendix contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.
B) Armed Conflicts in the Country
C) Corruption Perceptions Index from the Transparency International
D) Forest Area Certified, e.g. FSC or PEFC
E) Bans and restrictions on any of the timber species
F) Voluntary Partnership Agreements VPAs