The consumption of timber and other forest products can have significant negative social and environmental impacts – both at the local and global level – if the consumer does not consider the way in which they are produced or traded.
According to the FAO and the World Bank, more than 20 percent of the world’s population relies on forest resources for its livelihood. In many developing countries people living and depending on forests are strongly affected by forest management methods. However, local communities and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often have limited market access or property conflicts that undermine their capacity to carry out sustainable forest management practices. Forest degradation, deforestation, a lack of social concerns for wood workers and indigenous people, poverty and emigration are interlinked with corruption, illegal logging, and mismanagement of forest ecosystems, with related effects on climate change and biodiversity.
Consumer countries directly contribute to the problems mentioned by purchasing timber and other forest products without ensuring that they are socially and environmentally sourced. Imports of illegally logged timber by the European Union are estimated at 30 million cubic metres per year - 17 percent of total wood-based imports. Public Authorities consume about 15 percent of all timber and paper in Europe – for uses such as building and civil construction, office and outdoor furniture, and office paper and stationery. This represents significant purchasing power in creating a shift towards a fairer and more sustainable forest products market.
Fair and sustainable timber
The Sustainable Timber Action project aims to inform public authorities about the impacts of their timber consumption activities and assist them to move toward more responsible consumption models, helping achieve environment safeguards and contribute to poverty alleviation.
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