From the forest forward

Working together for the benefit of the forests and timber trade is the mission of the European Timber Trade Federation, says Secretary General André de Boer.

André de Boer

The formation of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF), following the merger of different bodies representing the European softwood, hardwood and panels sectors, is a major step forward. It not only represents and serves the common causes of the European timber trade, but also aims to exercise a positive influence on the development of the global forest resource.

The timber sector occupies a unique position in its ability to work with timber end users, producers, NGOs and governments.  Our aim is to make the most of this position, and facilitate communication and pan-European action on key developments that impact our trade.

We keep members informed on professional, economic, ecological and fiscal developments that could help timber marketing and boost consumption. We also act as a hub to foster collaboration. We can learn from each other's views and expertise on different issues, and in facing challenges together under one umbrella organisation, pool our experience, knowledge and resources to the benefit of the timber business as a whole. We will implement mandatory monitored Codes of Conduct for member federations and their memberships, set ourselves credible, feasible targets – to be monitored by an independent third party – and join with producers to promote the technical and other benefits of using timber.

Every European timber trader, whether exporter or importer, is dedicated to ensuring the economic, social and environmental sustainability of our raw material. To underline this commitment and take it forward, the ETTF also aims to monitor trade performance in purchasing verified legal and sustainable timber products. Additionally we will:

  • Promote the use of timber as a sustainable raw material.
  • Lobby for lower taxation on verified sustainable timber products.
  • Back international efforts to address deforestation, forest governance and climate change.
  • Support the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan.
  • Ensure carbon value is taken into account for forests and forest products.
  • Support harmonisation of responsible purchasing policies and guidance.
  • Promote mutual acceptance of credible certification schemes.

As far as environmental performance is concerned, another critical focus for the ETTF and its members is the 2013 EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) which aims to block illegally-sourced timber coming on to the EU market.

The ETTF is focused on assisting our members meet the requirements of the EUTR with a coordinated strategy on due diligence illegality risk assessment approach. To this end we have developed our own pan-European Due Diligence System for adoption by our member Federations and other organisations for their memberships, and individual companies. This, in turn, will also make it easier for our suppliers to understand and meet the demands of the EUTR, ensuring mutual benefit for all.

While accepting that it places new demands and pressures on our industry, we and our members fully support the EUTR. Any measure that helps ensure the long-term availability and supply of timber to the EU and improves its market prospects,, should be welcomed as a key step in ensuring a sustainable timber trade and, consequently, the future of the forests.

Our journey as a united Federation has really only just begun, but we are already gathering support. The UK Department for International Development (Dfid), for instance, has awarded us a three-year grant from its Forest Governance Markets and Climate Programme. This recognises that a sustainable timber trade is part of the solution to ensuring that the global forest resource remains intact, which, in turn will help alleviate poverty, improve biodiversity and mitigate climate change.  The grant will significantly help the ETTF to act as the timber trade's advocate in climate change initiatives and help us protect the forests that are key to all our existence.