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The positive social and environmental impact of material specification

The role of material specification in helping designers achieve a positive social and environmental impact is something most are now beginning to understand. 

This is good news. Timber already has the lowest carbon footprint of any mainstream building material, and specifiers can look for a range of chain-of-custody and certification schemes to give assurance over the wider social and environmental benefits their products bring.

The Timber Trade Federation is working with the UK’s Department for International Development to raise awareness among specifiers about FLEGT, what species and products are available, how these can be used, and supporting acceptance of FLEGT in procurement frameworks.

FLEGT – Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade – is a countrywide policy framework designed to combat illegal logging and deforestation. Supported by DfID, the European Union, UN FAO and others, the FLEGT Action Plan improves governance, strengthens sustainable and legal forest management, and promotes the vital component of trade in legally produced timber. In turn, it provides vital revenues for local people to keep the forests standing.

Indonesia is the first country to have completed the FLEGT process. 15 more countries have entered the formal Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process of overhauling the legal, social, business and environmental infrastructure of their nations to achieve a FLEGT licence. To help ensure lasting success, this process engages with communities and civil society on an unprecedented scale. Combined, VPA forests cover an area the size of the EU and account for around 80% of EU tropical timber imports. Availability of EUTR compliant FLEGT licenced timber products suitable for a huge range of applications is going to increase.

A further benefit of FLEGT is that suppliers will now meet many of the criteria for other certification schemes. With certification schemes accounting for just 6.5% of tropical forest, FLEGT and the VPA process can accelerate progress towards verified legal and sustainable forest management exactly where it is needed most.

If you want to know more, get in touch. We can help your company learn more about FLEGT, what timbers and product are available, and how the materials you choose today can have a positive and lasting impact on the fate of the world’s forests.

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