Industry News

Proper management of tropical forests could be an asset for the planet, says ATIBT

On the first anniversary of its Fair&Precious brand, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT) underlines some of the lesser-known facts about forest management while remaining committed to promoting a sustainable tropical timber industry.

Sustainable forest management protects against deforestation

When we talk about the exploitation of tropical forests, many people associate it with deforestation. They imagine thousands of hectares of virgin forests destroyed, century-old trees burned to the ground and nature disfigured forever – all for the sole purpose of creating agricultural land or grazing to obtain land. Yet there is a major difference between deforestation and sustainable forest management.

Robert Hunink, President of ATIBT explains: “European consumers misunderstand the role of forest managers in attributing tropical deforestation, mainly due to the "mining" of forest soil fertility for agriculture or firewood. Through the Fair&Precious brand, they will learn that the actors of our ecosystem do not plunder, but on the contrary only pick one or two trees per hectare, on the same plot, once every thirty years."

To date, only companies certified in legal and sustainable forest management (certifications are issued by FSC or PEFC and controlled by certifying bodies such as Bureau Veritas, SGS Quailfor or Rainforest Alliance) can benefit from the Fair&Precious brand. In addition to these certification standards, they must comply with the country’s applicable forest code (after validation of control procedures and obtaining legal certifications). The certification is then valid for a period of five years.

The ratio of trees harvested is far lower than those left to grow naturally

At present, the vast majority of tropical timber comes directly from the virgin forest (without harvesting control) or from large plantations which are gradually replacing virgin forests. The first is simply illegal poaching, while the second is a monoculture of exotic tree varieties that degrade the soil, threaten biodiversity and accelerate climate change. 

The Fair&Precious programme offers a sustainable alternative: preserving forest resources by harvesting less than its natural increase. Young trees, as well as seed trees, are systematically left standing, since they contribute to the renewal of the forest.

Forest managers create real local economic and social development

Unlike many unscrupulous players, Fair&Precious members are committed to working for local economic and social development by contributing to generate income for people and by providing them with access to services such as education, medical care and housing. Local processing is thus favoured and training in various forestry and wood trades is provided by the network’s member concession holders. By providing employment and resources to local populations, they are fighting against exodus and urban concentration.

The mission of forest managers is also to fight poaching

With its sustainable approach, the Fair&Precious brand also aims to protect fauna and flora, by ensuring that animals’ habitats are made safe. In blocking the illegal trafficking of forest products, they are also able to develop programmes to combat poaching and restock endangered species.

Tropical wood is in fact the most environmentally friendly material available

Today, in the absence of a guarantee, consumers often turn away from tropical wood and choose materials with a much lower environmental performance record. Fair&Precious aims to restore confidence among tropical wood users and to promote the acquisition of products from sustainably managed tropical forests. The exceptional technical performance of tropical woods and their durability properties are highlighted. Indeed, these materials have excellent resistance to external environmental factors and require no chemical treatment. 

Tropical wood is particularly useful and efficient in the construction of garden decking, interior and exterior furniture, shipbuilding, etc. Fair&Precious’ objective is not to massively increase volume sales, given its commitment to preserving the forests, but to enable these “precious" woods to regain their true place on the market. 

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/proper-management-tropical-forests-could-be-asset-planet-says-atibt]

TRADA’s response to the Government’s proposed ban which has implications for CLT

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other forms of structural timber construction are not only here to stay but are actually set to increase in popularity. After all, CLT attracts architects, contractors, clients and more for a multitude of distinct reasons. Some are aesthetic, others include cost reduction and programme savings – and, for those concerned about climate change, CLT sequesters carbon and stores it for the life of the building.

For these reasons TRADA believes that, whilst its understanding of the Government’s conclusion to the consultation suggests that CLT will therefore be prevented from being used in certain situations, this does not have to be of detriment to the structural timber market. The vast majority of CLT projects delivered in the UK to date are six-storeys and under – which will not be impacted upon by these restrictions. Important markets currently utilising the material, such as schools, will therefore remain unaffected.

What this proposed ban does mean, however, is a necessity for creativity if we are to continue making the best use of timber as a structural material. We must, as an industry, determine methods by which we can build above six-storeys using structural timber – but not on the outer walls. Glulam post and beam is already one potential solution to this challenge.

The Government’s report remains fairly vague as to the use of BS 8414 as a method of proving compliance. TRADA will therefore seek to establish the exact situation with regards to this.

In general, TRADA believes that the consultation was ambiguously worded, particularly in regards to whether the consultation questions related to cladding only or to the entire wall assembly. Due to this, we found it very difficult to know how to answer many of the questions – and we believe this ambiguity will have caused difficulty for others too.

Read the document Government Response to the Consultation on Banning the Use of Combustible Materials in the External Walls of High-Rise Residential Buildings here

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/trada%E2%80%99s-response-government%E2%80%99s-proposed-ban-which-has-implications-clt]

André de Boer passes ETTF lead role to Thomas Goebel

André de Boer is stepping down as Secretary General of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) in 2019, handing over the reins to Thomas Goebel, Chief Executive of German Timber Trade Federation GD Holz.

The first quarter of next year will see a transition process, with Mr Goebel [left pictured] officially taking on the role by April 1, combining it with his position at GD Holz,. The ETTF secretariat is also moving to Berlin.

A commercial lawyer by profession, Mr de Boer took over at the helm at the ETTF ten years ago after its formation from an amalgamation of European timber trade bodies. Prior to that he was Managing Director of the Netherlands Timber Trade Federation (VVNH) for 20 years.

His time at the ETTF, he said, has been both challenging and exciting. “The European timber importing sector in this period has had to adapt to major changes; concentration of the industry and a decline in tropical timber trade, as well as the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation,” he said. “But the trade has evolved and moved with the times, and at the same time the ETTF has gained relevance throughout the international market as advocate of a legal and sustainable, but also a commercially significant and dynamic industry.

“We are now an integral part of the conversation on climate change and the development of a low carbon bioeconomy. There’s also recognition at government level that a commercially viable forestry and timber industry is integral to maintenance of the forest resource; it’s widely accepted that it’s a case of use it or lose it.”

Mr de Boer said now was the time to hand over to a new team to take the organisation forward and exploit the opportunities to grow the European timber market.

Mr Goebel said he looked forward to his new role. “The ETTF has equipped itself well to master the challenges and realize the opportunities to come for the timber trade and is well placed to further strengthen representation of its members interests,” he said.

In another strategic move for the future of the ETTF, its annual general meeting earlier this year decided that it should join the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries, Brussels-based CEI-Bois, where a key focus will be helping develop a new timber trade segment.

“CEI Bois, with its close connection to the EU in Brussels, will further serve the interests of the trade through this separate trade pillar, in which the ETTF will play a leading role,” said Mr Goebel. “It’s decisive that we develop this facility.”

At present the ETTF has 18 member associations in 16 countries.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/andr%C3%A9-de-boer-passes-ettf-lead-role-thomas-goebel]

EFI study analyses contribution of wood products to climate change mitigation

A new science-policy report from the European Forest Institute (EFI) demonstrates that using wood-based products to substitute greenhouse gas intensive-materials can have important climate benefits.

The authors reviewed 51 existing studies to provide an up-to-date synthesis of scientific knowledge on the greenhouse gas emissions of products made from wood and from alternative materials, over their entire lifetime.

While the positive role of forests in climate change mitigation is generally well perceived, the contribution of wood products to mitigation is much less known and understood. Current reporting on greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and related processes does not attribute the substitution benefits of wood-based products directly to the forest sector. However, this information is important when developing optimal strategies on how forests and the forest sector can maximise their contribution to climate change mitigation. 

The study concludes that for each ton of C in wood products that substitute non-wood products, average emissions are reduced by approximately 1.2 ton C. Expressed in a different unit, this corresponds to about 2.2 ton of CO2 emissions reduction per ton of wood product. The substitution effects vary significantly, depending on the wood product and technology that is considered and the methods used to estimate emissions.

The study coordinator, Pekka Leskinen, said: “It is also crucial to remember that the greenhouse gas substitution impact of wood products is only one component in climate change mitigation. The substitution factor alone should not form the basis of policies, since the overall climate impacts of forests depend also on forest carbon sinks, forest soil and carbon stored in wood products.”

The study also identifies limitations and important research gaps that should be covered to have a better understanding of the substitution effects – for example there is a lack of knowledge on the climate impacts of emerging wood-based products like textiles and biochemicals.

Download the study here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/efi-study-analyses-contribution-wood-products-climate-change-mitigation]

Government consultation confirms the suitability of timber cladding for all building types below 18m in height

The outcome of the government’s in depth assessment of the use of different cladding materials in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy has confirmed that timber, where necessary enhanced with flame retardant (depending on aspect), remains fit for purpose and compliant with amended Building Regulations (in England), where the upper floor level of a building is less than 18m above ground, so enabling the market for this safe, environmentally positive, versatile and attractive cladding material to continue to grow.

This is the approach that Wood Protection Association (WPA) and the Confederation of Timber Industries lobbied for throughout the consultation period and we are pleased to see government has listened to our industry’s views. Buildings where the upper floor level exceeds 18m above external ground level – which do not represent a significant market for timber cladding - pose special design challenges and the decision to make non-combustible external cladding mandatory for this category was anticipated as a sensible design precaution in the wake of the lessons learnt from Grenfell Tower. The use of timber doors, door frames and windows in external walls on buildings over 18m continues to be approved.

Timber continues to be approved as a suitable material for external cladding under Building Regulations below 18m and where these regulations call for enhanced fire performance, tried and tested flame-retardant treatment processes are available to provide it. The fire performance of wood is well understood and years of experience in the use of timber cladding on all types of buildings combined with rigorous fire test requirements in BS and EN Standards has enhanced this understanding.

The reaction to fire properties of most wood-based materials can be enhanced by the application of flame retardants under factory-controlled conditions. WPA operates three complementary, independent quality schemes to verify flame retardant enhanced timber products have been manufactured appropriately for their intended end use under the WPA Benchmark FR banner.

Full technical details of these recent amendments to Building Regulations can be found in the new WPA FR Factsheet 5 “External Timber Cladding: Guidance to Amended Building Regulations December 2018”, available now free to download here.

Read also: Combustible Materials Response, Implications for Timber Industry

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/government-consultation-confirms-suitability-timber-cladding-all-building-types-below-18m]

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