Tropical Forests & Misconceptions

Tropical Forests & Misconceptions


Forests have incredible importance for the future of our planets health and climate change mitigation – at the TTF we are trying to tackle misconceptions of tropical timbers.

Tropical forests have an incredible importance for climate and emissions reductions, which leads this natural resource to being one of the greatest climate change mitigation strategies we have. These forests can provide 23 percent of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed before 2030 (World Resources Institute). As humans continue to take over the natural world, with an ever growing population, demand for resources and commodities – land use around the world faces immense pressure.

Having worked on the Timber Trade Federation’s FLEGT [Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade] Communications Project for just over a year, I have researched, learnt and exchanged an immense amount of knowledge and background on FLEGT, tropical timbers and the role of sustainable forest management (SFM). Sustainable Forest Management for timber production, is one of the best methods we have to keep forest standing, while generating a sustainable income for people and local communities who rely on these lands and to benefit from the great nature of trees – emissions reductions, biodiversity, habitat protection, carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services.

At the Timber Trade Federation, we believe it is our role to raise awareness of FLEGT, with architects, designers, specifiers and other end-users, so that timber producers in countries aspiring towards FLEGT can gain market access and have a incentive for further legal and sustainable reforms in their country.

CEO of the TTF and TTF FLEGT Project Lead, David Hopkins shares some of his views on FLEGT, using tropical timber and our Conversations about Climate Change concept.

One of the common misconceptions is around the use of tropical hardwoods and any activities of ‘promoting’ this natural resource. As David Hopkins portrays “we are not encouraging the uses of tropical timbers per say, but rather for people for people to understand where their materials come from and the impact, environmentally, that their choices can have”. Through Conversations about Climate Change we are drawing light to species from countries engaging with the FLEGT Action Plan, creating a greater awareness of sustainable forest management, the role of specifiers and hope to encourage a greater integration of FLEGT within procurement policies.

In addition, some question the use of tropical hardwoods at all or timber. The idea of leaving land or forests alone is an admirable concept, but the reality is that there are multiple and competing pressures on forests and land use. We need to balance the demand for materials, food and commodities with the need to keep these incredible habitats standing. Conversations about Climate Change was formulated to convey that timber harvesting from sustainable forest management sources will actually keep the forests standing – providing governance and legal reforms are in place.

Where possible we have tried to incorporate Lesser Known Timber Species (LKTS) or raise awareness of these species within our Conversations about Climate Change project as alternatives to elevate pressure of timber stocks and increase biodiversity within forests. “One of the ways to do this is to educate specifiers about the range of species available, where they come from and what their design properties are – so that they are able to make those informed choices and start to increase demand across the full palette of species available” David Hopkins.

For David Hopkin’s full Q&A, visit ‘Everything you wanted to know about FLEGT‘. Our Conversations about Climate Change exhibition at the Building Centre in London opens 19th* November.

*Revised date