CIRAD: Report - Potential causes of the contraction of the demand for FSC certified tropical timber in the European Union


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The study was conducted over a period of 6 months with interviews of concessionaires from Central Africa and importers in Europe. This report presents the main findings of the research based on these interviews.


The ultimate aim of the research study is to inform decision makers in Europe and the private sector on causes of the contraction of the demand for FSC certified tropical timber in the European Union.


An Extract:


Section 3: Diverging markets characteristics and key factors underlying strategic behaviours

With the entry into application of the EUTR, some importers have adopted an “opportunistic” behaviour (“I replace FSC certified tropical timber by non-FSC certified timber”) using the fact that with the EUTR, consumers feel that there is no more problem of illegality for imported tropical timber in Europe. Sometimes these behaviors are motivated by the price of FSC certification (they do not want to pay more) but also by problems of unavailability of FSC timber in due quantities and time.


These strategies are mostly focused in the southern Europe, where the issue of price is the most sensitive and where environmental awareness is the lowest. In fact, it was noted by both French importers and the UK timber trade federation that “northern markets” (i.e. where the economic crisis is less acute) are more sensitized to social and environmental issues and are therefore ready to pay a higher price for certified timber while in “southern markets” (i.e. where economic difficulties, especially in building, are stronger) these aspects are not well marketed. Additionally, public markets for certified timbers are willing to pay the price premium associated to FSC, while private buyers are more and more reluctant to do so (especially in countries where the economic crisis is felt in building activities). In sum, the hypothesis tested - EUTR as a disincentive for buying FSC certified tropical timber - would be only marginally confirmed (so far) in countries where the market is depressed (and where price is one of the first criteria), but not in countries with resilient timber markets and significant public purchasing policies for certified timber....Therefore, one can say that, so far, EUTR is not significantly impacting FSC-certified tropical timber demand, even though some “weak signals” are detectable.


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