ATIBT-Nogent-sur-Marne (France) / 10 November 2014 - Consumer trust is key to making tropical wood’s true colours shine. Because consumers have a vital role to play in forest protection, through the choices they make, affirmed 150 participants in the international forum on “Strengthening Trust in Tropical Wood” held from 5 to 7 November 2014 in Amsterdam (the Netherlands).
For the occasion, the historical setting of the Koepelkerk Zaal, a former 17th century church and now a UNESCO site that hosted the Forum, exhibited tropical plants and tropical wood products to express a key concept. The beauty and durability that consumers admire in the various species of tropical wood come from a common source: tropical forests.
Held under the aegis of the European Coalition on Sustainable Tropical Timber (STTC) and organized by Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux (ATIBT), a brainchild of the United Nations founded 63 years ago, the Forum brought together private sector representatives with NGOs such as Greenpeace, the WRI (World Resources Institute), WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society).
The programme was rich, spanning from tropical timber market needs to progress in achieving forest sector legality.
Representatives from the Netherlands and Germany showed how public procurement can make it possible to marry profit with sustainability.
The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation underlined the importance of developing a sustainable forest industry, one capable of preserving tropical forests at the same time as giving them an economic value.
“We’ve seen enough evidence that responsible forest management is actually one of the best ways of conserving tropical forests,” said Ted van der Put, Director of the Dutch Sustainable Initiative (IDH), who went on to say: “The fear to touch tropical forests is unfortunately our enemy as it contributes to the destruction of the forest: we need demand for sustainable forest products in order to protect it!”
As a tangible step in this direction, Double Helix and ATIBT launched a joint initiative. In a nutshell, it’s about “using cutting-edge forest genetics to determine legality of African timber to help gain access to premium European and American markets,” as ATIBT Director General Ralph Ridder put it. ATIBT and Double Helix are looking to attract donor attention to a genetic reference database, as this would empower consumers to test whether the wood they are buying is legal using nature’s own barcode.
On the fringe of the Forum, several industry visits made it possible for Dutch firms to open their doors to a number of interested participants.
As architect Machiel Spaan put it, “We must get in touch and in tune with tropical wood. And innovate, starting from the idea of sustainability and the landscape we can shape thanks to it.” One where the forest can grow following its rhythm and natural pace because it is managed in a responsible way. And where forest inhabitants can grow in quality of life while their children's education produces development.