Tropical forests continue to disappear and degrade at an alarming rate. Unsustainable timber production and harvesting practices pose threats to the ecosystem and lead to further degradation and forest land conversion.

The IDH Tropical Timber program promotes the use of sustainable tropical timber. IDH focuses on 3 main targets: to increase the uptake of Sustainable Forest Management timber products by 150.000 m3, to support the development of economically viable and sustainably managed forests via effective public private platforms, and to develop a direct sourcing connection between end-buyers and producing regions.

The European Sustainable Tropical Timber conference on November 19

Can the tropical timber sector contribute to a post-pandemic reboot of the global economy on cleaner, greener value chains under a circular bioeconomic model?

In this virtual event, open for all interested in hearing, learning and discussing sustainable tropical timber, we will hear from keynote speaker Lee White, Minister of Water and Forestry in Gabon, and from circular economy specialists, urban authorities and bioeconomic business innovators.

Join us

The IDH Timber market program

The IDH Timber market program aims to drive EU sustainable tropical timber import to 40% by 2020. To this end, IDH convened the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC), and supports market monitoring studies to make the EU tropical tim­ber market more transparent and to create accountability. Moreover, IDH works on mobilizing investments (e.g. via the LDN Fund) and convening policy frameworks to reach market change, which is scalable.

Driving market transformation in Timber

Our latest report (Nov 2020) shows 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 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 tropical forests. Combined with primary timber, shifting Europe’s demand to certified sustainable products could impact 18 million hectares. These staggering 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.
Read the report
Activities of the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) include sector wide action plans with timber trade federations, individual companies and municipalities in five focus countries: Germany, Denmark, France, Italy and Spain, which source a significant amount of tropical timber. The STTC takes a more data driven approach, including improving data on market uptake and information sharing among partners. In addition, different from previous project-based approach, IDH is moving towards engaging more directly with countries at national level.

In response to declining market demand for tropical timber and in order to increase the volume of sustainably managed tropical forests, IDH founded the European Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition in 2012/2013. The main objective is to increase the demand for sustainable tropical timber in Europe. The initial objective of 30% sustainable tropical timber on the European market was achieved by 2015. Activities included a life-cycle analysis for wooden window frames, research into the practical use of various lesser-known timber species, engagement with municipalities on sustainable procurement, and workshops for architects.

In 2016 the STTC re-launched and attracted five new members, making the total number of participants 52. STTC’s participants range from cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Rotterdam and Amsterdam to timber importers, construction companies and large home improvement retailers. The STTC will work together with the national timber trade federations in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Denmark, engaging them formally to implement a sustainable tropical timber sourcing policy. The STTC will also engage various municipalities in the five focus countries to develop and implement policies on sustainable tropical timber procurement. 

Understanding sustainable secondary tropical wood products through data

Our latest data 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 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.

Read the report

Forest in landscapes

We have come to realize that forests and forest management do not exist in isolation from other land uses. The main driver of deforestation is actually not timber felling at all; it is rather agricultural expansion into the forest. And that has a lot to do with that the financial value of one hectare of forest can never supersede the financial value of one hectare of palm oil, soy plantation, or cattle breeding. However, harvesting trees in a sustainable way in well managed forests directly reduces the opportunity costs of not converting forests to plantations. Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) safeguards the preservation of forests better than any other mechanism we have at our disposal.

Since 2008, IDH has invested in promoting sustainable forest management, by supporting producers and mobilizing markets. It started with certification programs in the Amazon (Amazon Alternative program) and Indonesia (Borneo Initiative), and later the Congo Basin region, making the IDH Tropical Timber program the biggest forest certification program worldwide. By early 2016, over 8 million hectares of tropical forests in the three regions have been certified with the support of IDH, amounting to 50% of all current FSC certifications of forests in the tropics.

Sustainable Forest Management Toolkit

A business case toolkit was created for concession holders and forest owners managing forests throughout the tropics. The toolkit aims to motivate concession holders and forest owners to (further) engage with SFM and certification by providing best practice information and tools which show possibilities to run sustainable businesses in managed tropical forests.

Download the toolkit here.

Facts and Figures

  • Private-sector (sustainability) investments in the program (in million euro)

    Target 2018 0
    Results 2018 0
    Cumulative target 2020 0
    Cumulative result 2016-2018 4
  • Uptake rate of sustainable production in EU (percentage)

    Target 2018 22
    Result 2018 30
    Cumulative target 2020 40
    Cumulative result 2016-2018 30
  • Number of hectares where sustainable production/ farm rehabilitation/sustainable intensification are implemented (million hectares)

    Target 2018 0
    Result 2018 1
    Cumulative target 2020 2
    Cumulative result 2016-2018 2

Relevant SDGs

  • Decent jobs and economic growth
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Life on land

Contact us for more information