Specifier Review
responsible forestry

The role of specification

By TTF FLEGT Communications Executive Lucy Bedry.

Responsible forestry and sourcing of timber and timber products is an essential part of the solution to reducing harmful carbon emissions amd mitigating the worst impacts of climate change.

The Timber Trade Federation is encouraging designers and specifiers to consider their role in the climate emergency through their latest FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) project: Conversations about Climate Change.

“Conversations about Climate Change asks designers to respond to this material [tropical hardwood], encourages them to think about the materials they usually work with, and to consider how their role as a specifier is vital for implementing change”, David Hopkins, CEO of the Timber Trade Federation.

Responsible forestry and sourcing of timber and timber products is an essential part of the solution to reducing harmful carbon emissions.

Recent studies of the UK construction sector have shown that off site panelised modular timber frame systems can save up to 50% of embodied carbon and 35% embodied energy compared to traditional residential building methods and materials (J. Monahan and JC. Powell, 2011).

Timber as a renewable resource and the benefits of carbon capture and storage, portrays a strong part of the future for climate change mitigation. There are misconceptions surrounding timber and timber harvesting, largely due to deforestation and the issue of illegal logging. Most land clearing – around 70% – can be attributed to agricultural deforestation, most notably; beef, soy and palm oil, rather than logging for timber (Fern, 2017).

It is predicted that illegal logging accounts for up to 30% of the global timber trade, an equivalent worth of $51-152 billion annually (NEPCONWorld Resources Institute).

Retailers, specifiers and designers can reduce their risk and enhance their reputation by only using timber or timber products that are sustainably produced, legally verified, engaging with supply chain mapping or by specifying timber which has a FLEGT-license or third-party certification (FSC or PEFC are the most common). By specifying sustainable procured timber, these groups can give the highest standards to their customers, be respected and credible and increase the demand for legal and sustainable timber and trade.

Our RIBA-certified course, Procuring Sustainable Timber, lists what to check for when specifying sustainable timber.

“Research shows that timber harvesting from sustainable forest management sources will actually keep the forests standing – provided governance and legal reforms are in place. We can support this by keeping trade alive and money flowing back to those making the positive changes”, Hopkins continues.

This is where FLEGT comes in. FLEGT is the UK and EU’s Action Plan to combat illegal logging, subsequent illegal trade and deforestation. In replacement forest monitoring, auditing, multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement with local communities is introduced. This landmark shift in governance and procurement means FLEGT licensed timber is safe, legal and a sustainable form of timber. National stakeholder engagement involving stakeholders from government, private sector and civil society define ‘legal’ timber according to the laws of their country and identify legal and governance reforms to enforce it.

FLEGT reflects a country-wide process committed to sustainably managing forests and the timber they produce, closing the door on illegal logging and its devastating impacts.

Timber Trade Federation

The Building Centre
26 Store Street

Tel: 020 3205 0067