The global market for tropical wood has changed significantly over the past 15 years. Comparing 2011 to 1995 in tropical primary wood product exports, according to the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), plywood has dropped from 75 to 25 percent market share; veneer has declined from 38 to 30 percent. Consumption of hardwood in the European Union (EU) plummeted after the economic collapse in 2009 and it has not returned. Because of economic development in countries like Brazil, countries are more likely to use their own wood products, less likely to export. The middle class outside the U.S. is expected to double by 2020, affecting worldwide commodity consumption. China is now the largest market for commodities from Peru; the U.S. is also exporting hardwood to China.
Standards requiring proof of legality have also had an effect, from Japan’s “Goho” in 2006, the Lacey Act amendments in the U.S. in 2008, and EU trade regulations which went into effect in 2013. In some cases, the effect has been unintentional: Some buyers say they have shifted to American over tropical woods because they have more confidence in their legality. A number of municipalities and companies have reduced or banned the use of tropical woods, bowing to pressure from misguided lobbying campaigns.
In the face of change, TFF remains committed to ensuring the future of tropical forests by increasing their economic value. This has long been a collaborative venture, as demonstrated by the 2013 annual meeting, which brought academic, industry, government, and conservation interests together for in-depth and spirited discussion.
Our agenda has both shaped and been shaped by events in tropical forests around the world. With the support of our members and partners, we launched a carbon-related project, doubled our corporate memberships since 2010, and ended the fiscal year with sufficient resources to assure our next steps. As you will read in the reports we’ll share here from our training centers and other presenters, our work will evolve as we provide a forum for people who study tropical forests, develop sustainable forestry practices, and observe what is happening in forest-dependent communities. Our commitment remains to advance environmental stewardship, economic prosperity, and social responsibility.
Bob Johnston, Executive Director