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Sustainable Forest Stewardship: The model approach of the Forest Trust

Posted by Tristan Lecomte on 20 October 2010

According to the WWR, 40 % of timber imported into France is illegal. The lack of information on the stakes of eco-certification explains this behavior. There is a powerful incentive to effectively fight against uncontrolled deforestation throughout the World. The Forest Trust (TFT) is a respected non-governmental organization working in the field and a valued partner of the Fondation Chirac in its program to “Fight Deforestation and Desertification”.

The originality of the TFT is to tackle the problem of deforestation using a global approach to the domain. What is the use of raising consumer awareness about buying sustainably managed timber if the channels are not established and properly controlled beforehand? How can the logging industry be encouraged to undertake better practices without technical assistance and without incentives from subsequent markets?

Thus, the TFT works from one end to the other of the timber chain in order to ensure proper management. By bettering conditions for planting, logging, and the sales of timber we switch from a situation in which deforestation worsens global warming and increasingly pauperizes populations (they benefit very marginally from profits of the illegal sale of timber) to a virtuous situation in which forests are responsibly managed, in which their capacity to stock CO2 is accrued, and in which the value of the entire sector increases for the benefit of all.

Les étudiants de la promotion Moabi sur un chantier d’exploitation forestièreThis is the driving spirit behind the Centre for Social Excellence for the sustainable stewardship of forests in Cameroon, financed by the Fondation Chirac. This center is associated with a logging concession of 365 000 hectares that obtained an FSC certificate guaranteeing the sustainable management of its activities, a first in Africa. Their practices take into account the rights and lifestyles of local communities who are directly implicated, most notably by way of a community radio. The goal of the center is to expand the project to 7 million hectares by involving and training over a dozen local logging companies in sustainable forest stewardship.

The TFT is following the same approach in a number of countries. One of these is Laos where we had a chance to better grasp the added value of TFT on the field. The TFT is training communities and logging companies to optimize the planting and cutting of trees as well as in the sustainable management of timber. They also reinforce the ties and traceability with environmentally concerned buyers in our countries.

The forest is not an obstacle to development in developing countries

Together, the Fondation Chirac and the TFT strengthen these ties all the way to architects in France, the primary purchasing advisors for timber used in construction, by offering innovative and exemplary training. The Fondation also supports this newest initiative, in keeping with its partner’s example of a holistic approach to the sector.

The TFT’s approach to the sector has many advantages, one of which is to show that respecting the environment through better forest stewardship one is also creates added value for economic entities and improved social impact for the poorest populations. The forest is not an obstacle to development in developing countries. On the contrary it is one of their most precious assets. We must render it even more attractive in order to better ensure the sustainable development of these countries.

Tristan Lecomte discovers the project at Luang PrabangBusinesses and consumers in wealthy countries are more and more concerned with the social and environmental conditions of the products they buy. This is a powerful incentive for operators at the beginning of the chain. The TFT and the Fondation Chirac have therefore naturally joined forces around these themes that demonstrate the interdependence of economic, social, and environmental issues. Their partnership intends to shed light on the challenges and encourage the development of virtuous practices throughout the timber industry. Perhaps one day, their efforts will extend to every consumer product.

This would be an excellent reminder that all of our purchases at home condition the factors of social and environmental peace in the most vulnerable countries from whence these products are issued. This is a starting point to rethink our relationship to consumerism and its impact on Humanity and the Environment.

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