George White (GTF), Mark van Benthem (Probos), Jan Oldenburger (Probos) & Sander Teeuwen (Probos), October 2020

Commissioned by:
IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative

If the EU27+UK would source 100% verified sustainable tropical timber products, it would positively impact over 18 mill ha semi and natural tropical forests and reduce CO2 emissions by at least 100 million metric tons. These are the main findings of our latest market data report developed with the Global Timber Forum and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, breaking new ground regarding secondary timber products.

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With COVID-19 crippling economies and trade across the globe it has never been more important to halt illegal deforestation and fuel the growth of verified sustainable tropical timber. This is a fragile time for the world’s ecosystems, and ensuring that they can continue to thrive, support local communities, and provide sustainable economic benefits is paramount. We release ‘Understanding sustainable secondary tropical wood products through data’ in the hopes of guiding all actors in the tropical wood value chain towards more sustainable production and trade.

The report explores Europe's impact on tropical forests as a result of secondary tropical wood imports (doors, moldings, other joinery, and windows). It builds on our 2019 report that analyzed the primary tropical wood sector, and reveals the way that these two aspects of the tropical timber trade impact tropical forests. Volumes of the selected secondary tropical wood product imports (187,500 tonnes in 2019) are significantly less than primary tropical wood (2,300,000 tonnes in 2018), but the impacts are still meaningful.

The results show that secondary timber largely mirrors primary timber – in 2019, 33% of Europe's direct imports of the analyzed secondary tropical wood products from ITTO producer countries were exposed to certification (compared to 28.5% of primary timber in 2018). This level of exposure to certification positively impacts at least 763,000–925,000 hectares of tropical forests.

Ramping up demand for SFM-certified products to 100% of imports would impact an additional 1,160,000–1,322,000 hectares of semi- and natural tropical forests. Combined with primary timber, shifting Europe's demand to certified sustainable products could impact 18 million hectares.

The new data shows that the current demand of Europe for certified tropical timber primary and secondary products reduces CO2 emissions per year by between 18.9 and 29.2 million metric tons. An EU27 and UK market using only sustainable tropical timber products might reduce emissions by at least 100 million metric tons. These figures illustrate the necessity of a new way forward, and demand action by all actors in this sector to grow demand for tropical timber, explore novel applications, and support producing countries in shifting production practices.

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