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  • Sustainable procurement: Using tropical hardwood to save the rainforest

Sustainable procurement: Using tropical hardwood to save the rainforest

Tropical forests account for almost half of the world’s woodlands. More than a billion of the world’s rural population are reliant on income from these forests. Illegal logging and conversion into agricultural use, i.e. for palm oil or cattle farming are the biggest threats to these unique habitats. Here's what you can do to protect the rainforest and enjoy the beauty of its crops.

Architects and designers choosing to use tropical hardwood from sustainably managed sourced can help protect the forest and sustain income for people in developing countries. Making sure the forest provides income for local people is one of the most effective measures to protect areas from clearfelling for palm oil, soy or cattle farming. Buying certified timber products from sustainably managed forests is a significant contribution in the fight against illegal logging that negatively affects people's lives far beyond the loss of common goods.

The two most important steps in specifying tropical hardwoods are to become knowledgeable about the international supply chain and to find a responsible supplier. We have gathered information to help you with both.

How to make sure you are sourcing timber from sustainably managed forests

  • Keep it simple: buy certified products

  • Find a trusted supplier who caters for your needs

  • Check for the likelihood of your selected species to be from an illegal source

Find out more. Take the online CPD. Learn about an Architect’s view on specifying tropical hardwoods.

Transforming Timber - a legal system against illegal logging

Timber Transformer, an exhibition on display at The Building Centre until 30 March, tells the story of positive change throughout the supply chain – from forest management to the finished product.

A significant step change in the protection of tropical rainforests has been achieved in the adoption of EU regulation through a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach in Indonesia – the first country to operate under a FLEGT license.

The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative are EU regulations that prohibit the selling of illegally logged timber in the EU, including within the UK. The FLEGT Independent Market Monitor regularly assesses impact of FLEGT agreements.

Government commitment for sustainable action

At a Timber Industries APPG meeting in February 2018, Environment minister Therese Coffey confirmed “When we leave the EU, the Withdrawal Bill will make sure the whole body of European environmental law continues to have effect in UK law.

“This means bringing into UK law two regulations that the UK timber sector played a great role in shaping: the European Union Timber Regulation and the Forest Law Environment Governance and Trade Regulation. I want to thank your industry for your continued commitment to a responsible and sustainable trade in timber.”

“And we remain firmly committed to halting illegal logging, combating deforestation, and enhancing sustainability too.”

Finding a trusted supplier

The Timber Trade Federation is committed to a sustainable sourcing policy and demands its members to provide #TimberYoucanTrust. We would recommend their members directory as a first point of call.

Examples of tropical hardwood use in design and construction

A disused school building was transformed into an inspirational new home for the Marecollege, incorporating a playful variety of tropical species from sustainable sources.

Two striking ecological homes in Nieuw Leyden showcase the beauty of tropical timber in a new town development.

Youghal Boardwalk displays the strength and durability of Indonesian hardwood in a demanding outdoor setting on the Irish coast. 

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