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Estimating the 2020 share of verified sustainable tropical timber imports by the EU + UK and its impact on forests

01 december 2021

The aim of this study is to make further insightful the sustainability and legality of the import of tropical primary and secondary wood products by the EU27+UK. The seven main importing countries (Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany and Spain) together represent approximately 90% of the EU28 primary tropical timber product import. The concentration of imports in these seven countries provides a strong lever for change. A rapid shift towards sustainable timber could have wide-ranging consequences for the world’s tropical forests.

The (potential) impact of EU + UK imports of primary and a selection of secondary products on semi and natural tropical forests is calculated. As is the potential reduction of CO emissions when sourcing from verified sustainably managed forests.

This study is a follow-up of the two previous studies: (2020) Understanding sustainable tropical wood products through data, and (2019) Unlocking sustainable tropical timber market growth through data.

The approach for this study, is referred to as measuring ‘exposure’ or ‘access’ to certified fibre rather than the ‘share of timber supply’ or ‘market share’. This approach then provides a useful insight into those flows between countries with significant gaps in the supply of certified material and those where certified supply is abundant. Combined with existing trade flow information and survey work in the EU and in producer countries, the approach can provide valid data and is repeatable at relatively low cost.

This study is being conducted through a consortium that is led by the Global Timber Forum (GTF) and in which Probos leads the technical side of the data gathering, particularly with respect to the ‘exposure’ approach and validating the outcome.


Probos expert(s) involved: Mark van Benthem, Sander Teeuwen, Jan Oldenburger and Sven van Best
Client(s): IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative
Year(s): 2021


Report: Europe’s sourcing of verified tropical timber and its impact on forests: What Next?