A critical aspect of international trade in timber is the impact it has on the world’s forests, important natural assets that support a wide variety of social and environmental functions.
Tropical forests, in particular, are extraordinarily rich areas of biodiversity which have in recent decades been threatened by unsustainable commercial logging practices. Temperate and boreal forests, which provide the majority of the world’s industrial roundwood, also hold important ecological and social value.
Widespread public concern over the effect of current harvesting and silvicultural practices on these and other forests has led to calls for more sustainable forest management practices. As a result, labelling systems have been developed for timber and timber products derived from well-managed forests to give the consumer a guarantee of sustainability.
Illegal logging remains a significant threat to any efforts towards sustainable forestry. Responsible sourcing of credibly certified timber and timber products helps discourage illegal logging and promote greater transparency throughout the timber industry.
It can be possible to screen investments in relation to:
- companies’ standards for timber sourcing. It is possible to focus only on those companies using significant amounts of timber.
- companies that manufacture products from uncertified tropical hardwood
- companies that sell uncertified tropical hardwood or products made from this
- companies that harvest tropical hardwood from uncertified forests
It can be possible to screen in the best performing companies or screen out the worse performers. It can also be possible to engage with companies on this issue – for example if there have been allegations of the use of illegally logged timber.