TFF Partner Accepted to Certification Support Program of TBI
Cloudy Bay Sustainable Forestry Ltd this week became the first forest management company in Papua New Guinea to be accepted officially by The Borneo Initiative (TBI) under its certification support program. Cloudy Bay is sponsored to TBI by the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF).
TFF has developed a relationship with this independent forest products company in PNG over the past four years and succeeded in obtaining TBI financial support for the company in November 2012. Since then, TFF has seen the company move from controlled wood status to full assessment. The certification efforts of Cloudy Bay promise an early success.
Buying Tropical Woods Helps Sustain the Forest
by Bob Johnston
Meeting with people and associations involved in designing, constructing, and furnishing buildings has opened my eyes to the perceptions regarding use of wood from the tropical forest. Much needed campaigns against deforestation (converting the land to other uses) and illegal logging have led many people to believe that they should not buy tropical woods at all. Further confusion is created by the small amount of certified wood that is imported into the developed country markets. One of the education tasks for TFF and its Members is to change the perceptions.
Let’s go back to the principles established at the Smithsonian Tropical Forestry Workshop in 1989 led by Dr. Thomas Lovejoy:
• Tropical forests will be preserved only if they are accorded economic value
• Blanket bans and embargos tend to depress the value of hardwoods and the forests
• Funds obtained from products of the tropical forests must be rechanneled into managing and regenerating those forests
When specifiers and buyers stop using tropical woods they contribute to the loss of value that causes forest land to be converted to other uses. When specifiers and buyers narrow their choices only to certified forests, they ignore the thousands of companies and forest communities that have adopted improved forestry practices, such as those taught by TFF.
The amount of natural tropical forest that is either certified or under sustainable forest management is up 33% in the past five years and represents 29% of forest currently available for harvest, according to the International Tropical Timber Organization, an arm of the United Nations. These numbers will continue growing only if there is a market in developing countries for tropical woods. Making the “green choice” should mean supporting tropical forest sustainability.
Indonesia’s largest concession takes the plunge!
by Art Klassen, Director, TFF-Indonesia
The Tropical Forest Foundation, TFF-Indonesia, has completed the third in a series of reduced impact logging (RIL) trainings to the Papua concession of PT Mamberamo Alasmandiri. At 677,310 ha, Mamberamo is Indonesia’s largest timber concession and is located in Papua province. What made this an especially noteworthy event is the certification workshop that was delivered to the management and staff during this training visit.
The training in RIL has been funded by the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) program, developed by The Nature Conservancy and financed by the US Agency for International Development. The program promotes responsible timber trade and sustainable management of forest resources and biodiversity in Asia. The RAFT program, now in its final stage of funding, brought together a catalytic group of NGOs, including TFF-Indonesia, governments and the private sector to transform the tropical timber trade.
The training course in certification at Mamberamo marks another successful transition between the RIL training program of TFF, to a full commitment to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification under The Borneo Initiative (TBI), with TFF as ongoing technical advisor to Mamberamo.
The Borneo Initiative is a non-profit organization established in 2008 to help forest concessions in Indonesia achieve FSC certification. TBI announced in January 2011 that 17 concessions had signed up, controlling 2.3 million hectares (about 5.7 million acres). TFF-Indonesia is serving as chief technical advisor to 10 of the 17.
The spring training sessions at the Mamberamo concession and the affiliated industry on the island of Yapen, also marked the first physical collaboration between TFF and The Forest Trust (TFT) under a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding. TFF and TFT have agreed to collaborate in providing technical assistance to Mamberamo towards the goal of FSC certification and an expansion of the company’s market recognition.
PT Suka Jaya Makmur leads the race to forest certification
by Art Klassen, Director, TFF-Indonesia
One of the Tropical Forest Foundation’s (TFF) most significant contributions to timber companies is to prepare them for certification to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards. PT Suka Jaya Makmur (SJM), a 171,340 hectare forest concession located in the Ketapang District of West Kalimantan, has just taken a very significant step towards certification to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards with its response to the draft, full assessment report issued by Control Union Certifications(CU). This now clears the way for CU to finalize the Assessment Report and enables the company to develop a substantial response to CU on outstanding certification issues.
SJM is a member of the Alas Kusuma Group, which already boasts one certified concession and industry. TFF’s engagement with SJM goes back to 2003 when TFF launched a major Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) training effort in SJM and implemented a US Agency for International Development (USAID) “Forest-Market Linking” pilot project that combined legality verification, chain-of-custody systems, and a commitment to RIL adoption. This project led to the development of TFF’s Legal Verified with Chain of Custody® certification.
Since then, TFF has been successful in mobilizing funding support from the International Tropical Timber Organization and the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) partnership program in support of RIL and certification activities in SJM. In addition, this strong support has enabled the TFF/SJM partnership to develop a synergy that has attracted various other specialty activities including: an High Conservation Value Forest assessment carried out by a team from The Nature Conservancy and Fauna & Flora International; a comprehensive orangutan census carried out by World Wildlife Fund wildlife experts; and a draft ‘Conservation Action Plan’ prepared under the USAID funded ‘Orangutan Conservation Services Program’.
TFF is now preparing for a major visit to the SJM concession that will focus on finalizing the ‘Conservation Action Plan’ and crafting a comprehensive response to the CU Full Assessment report.
Watch this concession! It may be the next one certified in Indonesia!
Finding Common Ground in Big Ideas
by Bob Johnston, Executive Director, Tropical Forest Foundation
One of the pleasures of the year for me is the Annual Meeting of the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF). I listen and I learn. When the Board of Directors and guests gather there is a wealth of knowledge and experience and political stripes of many colors in the room.
Among those attending this year were forest carbon sequestration experts from World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy, TFF training center directors from Africa, South America, and Asia/Pacific, tropical wood producers from Brazil, wood traders and industry association leaders from the U.S., leaders from companies like Marvin, Stihl, Caterpillar, and Penrod, an environmental attorney from Williams Mullen, tropical forestry experts, and leaders from the U.S. Forest Service. You would think that the discussion might be divided and even heated.
Instead they find common ground.
TFF is unique. It was formed to create dialogue and common ground among industry, conservation, academia, science, and public agencies. Those who come to TFF Annual Meetings are united in the goal to sustain the tropical forests by improving forestry practices, conserving the environment, and increasing the economic value of the forests so the land won’t be converted to other uses.
This organization does not shy away from big ideas. New initiatives that were presented at the Annual Meeting include:
- The concept of developing an Expert and Reference Center on Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) that will serve the tropical timber industry, training centers, traders, and manfacturers
- Establishing a new training center in Peru, an increasingly important exporter for timber products
- Increasing promotion of TFF’s RIL Verified® and Legal Verified with Chain of Custody® certifications to industrial users of tropical woods
- Expanding TFF’s role in the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degredation (REDD+) program in developing countries
In fact, the idea of finding common ground among such a diverse group was a big idea from the beginning. Learn more at www.tropicalforestfoundation.org.
Peru Trip Shows Progress and Struggles to Preserve Forests
by Bob Johnston, Executive Director, The Tropical Forest Foundation
My recent trip to Peru demonstrated the significant advances being made in sustainable forestry management (SFM) but also the substantial forces working against progress. I witnessed miles and miles of tropical forest being burned for agriculture. Logging trucks that may have carried illegally harvested logs were pointed out to me. And both industry and government bemoaned the lack of resources available to improve the situation.
I was invited with colleagues to visit Camp Otorongo on a 70,000 hectare forest concession managed by the Bozovich Group. The company had contacted the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) to ask if an SFM training center could be established in Peru. Bozovich’s employees have been trained by TFF’s Brazilian training center staff.
Bozovich is implementing Reduced Impact Logging (RIL), a method of harvesting timber that minimizes the impact on the forest and water resources, conserves biodiversity, and substantially improves carbon sequestration. TFF developed the standard for RIL and it is widely viewed as fundamental to sustainable forestry management in the tropics. (You can see photographs and details of the difference between RIL and conventional logging on TFF’s website, www.tropicalforestfoundation.org.) As both a concession manager and timber products manufacturer, Bozovich uses its own wood and purchases wood from other concessions. The company would like to see RIL embraced by its entire supply chain.
But while we were encouraged by the warm reception that we received from industry, government officials, and ADEX, the export trade association, we were disheartened by other forces working against forest conservation. The government reports that 87% of deforestation is caused by conversion of the forested land to agriculture. The slash and burn practices used by farmers destroy forests that hold high economic value in their timber and other forest products. There is unmeasured value in the loss of biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
We also learned that the government has a limited ability to enforce forest regulations to stop both the burning and illegal logging. The U.S. Forest Service has a few staff members in the country for training and consulting but it is a small contribution in a nation where 61% of the land is Amazon basin tropical forest.
My trip to Peru was to launch a study to determine the feasibility of and curriculum needed for a training center to teach and research sustainable forestry management. TFF has developed training centers in Brazil and Guyana in South America, the Congo basin in Africa, and Indonesia to serve the Asia/Pacific region. Over its 20 year history, TFF has had a substantial impact on forestry practices in those regions and government policies. A training center in Peru would be the first established in Spanish-speaking South America and could serve as a regional center for the industry in nearby Spanish-speaking countries.
One new training center is a small start but it could be the start of substantial change in a nation whose industry leaders are anxious for that change to come.
EU ban on illegally logged timber highlights need for TFF program
by Bob Johnston, Executive Director, Tropical Forest Foundation
Shortly after I stepped into my new role as Executive Director of the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) on July 1, the European Parliament confirmed the need (and likely rapid expansion) of one of our key programs. Following the lead of the U.S., which amended the Lacey Act in 2008 to require certificates of legal origin for timber and timber products, the European Parliament passed legislation to ban illegal timber and timber products in its large market.
TFF has long promoted and taught sustainable forestry practices, which include proper planning, documentation, and compliance with legal requirements. TFF developed the Standard for Reduced Impact Logging (RIL), which has become the world standard, and has trained over 4,000 people from industry, government, and education in its sustainable forestry practices.
The Legal Verified Chain of Custody (CoC)® program, piloted in 2003, has become a widely recognized standard to prove that importers and manufacturers have performed due diligence. It is driven by buyers who want assurance that products are legally sourced and companies are working toward sustainability. TFF’s Legal Verified with CoC mark is granted when a company: 1) meets entry-level requirements including a third-party verification of legality and CoC systems from an internationally recognized auditor and 2) has an action plan to implement RIL to reduce unnecessary deforestation and achieve long-term sustainability.
All parties pursuing TFF’s Legal Verified mark are required to have systems in place which identify, document and separate the flow of logs and derived products from a legal source from logs and products from a non-verified system.
It has been more than two decades since a group of forward-thinking experts from business, science, and environmental advocacy published the “Consensus Statement on Commercial Forestry Sustained Yield Management and Tropical Forests,” from a workshop sponsored by The Smithsonian Institution and the International Wood Products Association. That workshop led to the formation of TFF to continue the work.
Today, businesses, consumers, and investors are increasing the demand for supply chain sustainability and transparency. Governments are catching up to the demand with legislation.
LEED Wood Certification Policy Creates Defacto Ban
By Bob Johnston, Executive Director, Tropical Forest Foundation
While USGBC’s intentions to ensure rigorous certification of wood through the recent LEED wood certification policy revisions are good, the organization runs the risk of making it too difficult to find products that meet the LEED requirement, causing architects and construction companies to opt for non-wood, and often non-renewable choices. The Tropical Forest Foundation supports sustainable forestry practices and would encourage the adoption of LEED requirements that recognize any sound certification system based on sustainable forest management.
In addition to FSC, PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) sets requirements for forest certification standards, the process of certification and for the Chain of Custody. PEFC is not a certification system itself. It assesses and endorses approved certification systems by allowing them to use the PEFC label. PEFC has recognized numerous European and North American certification systems such as SFI and CSA.
In Europe, several countries have developed procurement policies to promote sustainable development including criteria for sustainable produced timber and wood products. Some of these policies are recognized as the most rigorous in the world. All of these European countries have accepted FSC and PEFC certificates as an assurance for sustainably produced timber.
One of TFF’s founding principles, which is agreed to by conservation groups, scientists, and industry, is that when forests are managed for the value of their wood and other resources, there is a greater chance that they will be sustained in the long term. Therefore, LEED requirements that encourage the use of certified wood meeting rigorous, internationally accepted standards give greater value to forests and help in our effort to sustain the long-term value. This includes certifications endorsed by PEFC, FSC and beyond. If it becomes too difficult to find products that meet the LEED requirement, architects and construction companies will opt for non-wood, and often non-renewable choices.