ATIBT: Nature must be respected and protected with gratitude for her gift

The other day, whilst I was helping my children do a research for school, I found Ulysses’ exhortation to his fellow mariners to embark without fear on a journey that would lead them to new horizons.


The ATIBT Forum that is about to be held in Amsterdam, is one step in a journey across stormy seas, aiming to strengthen market confidence in tropical wood.


We all know how expensive it is to produce wood that is both certified and in accordance to European laws and how responsible forest industries have decided to embrace that cost. Because a responsibly managed forest is far from risking deforestation or degradation. Through selective logging, as little as one tree per hectare is cut in an area tantamount to 4 football fields. Going back to the same place only after 30 or 40 years. This stimulates the forest to sprout even more. And the road opened by the machines, a necessary road to transport the log, is reabsorbed by the forest in a short time because its fast regeneration process is powerful.

In addition, the log itself becomes a seed, a source of development for the forest inhabitants who are employed by the timber industry as workers and who can later on, as they gain experience, develop a carrier path, also to become managers. Not only that. The men and women who learn new techniques and expand their knowledge, reach a greater awareness of their role and therefore, better living conditions, welfare and social tranquility.

Anyone who has ever studied a forest or even just entered one, have found themselves in the presence of a complex living organism, one that is constantly changing and transforming owing to its life-cycle. So thinking of the forest as something likely to remain unchanged, means one fails to realize that it is right in its constant flux, change, evolution that its strength and life reside.

As is true for human beings, when the forest is denied the freedom to evolve, the end draws near because immobility is synonymous with death.

Therefore, I wish that this ATIBT Forum in Amsterdam marked an ideal watershed between a ‘before’ and ‘after’ moment.

A ‘before’ made of some shadows, some uncertainties and ambiguities, doubts and weariness and an ‘after’ as the result of meeting so many of us with the determination, courage and good will to share experiences and lessons learnt, to exchange views and advice, always respectful of the diverse points of view, but with a sincere desire to achieve the same goal.

Namely, a deep, conscious, well-placed confidence in the future of tropical wood. Making tropical wood a part of our lives means giving back to man his place in nature and helping him to find shelter from the all too many artificial elements that oppress him.

The Amsterdam Forum is therefore a true milestone, because it is a call to join forces and take action, aware of the commitment that each participant makes in front of the community i.e. to demonstrate just in how many ways tropical wood can be used, thanks to their own experience and to the many architects, designers and artists who have chosen to create their works in tropical wood.

If the greatest architects from all over the world have used tropical wood for different uses with wonderful results both from an artistic point of view and from the point of view of durability, it is essential to spread awareness on these magnificent wood species. We need to restore nature and its presence in our lives and in the environments in which we live and work, a nature that must be respected and protected with gratitude for her gift.





by Ralph Ridder

Director General, ATIBT





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