FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

Global Timber Forum - Joint Board & Advisory Committee Meetings

The Global Timber Forum (GTF) is a communication channel and facilitator, supporting the timber industry worldwide in its roles as supplier of the most sustainable and versatile building and manufacturing material and as guardian of a vital environmental resource. It has now unveiled key new developments and secured long-term funding to enhance its capabilities. This week the GTF team and supporters meet in Rome to discuss further plans for the future.

At the Rome meeting, held at the FAO headquarters, the GTF will unveil the basis of a new long-term structure, following its establishment as a legal entity, with registration as a UK not-for-profit organization. Delegates will identify priority activities for the next few years and discuss the results of a World Resources Institute needs survey, which outlines international views on how the GTF should evolve.

The GTF was launched at FAO in 2013 to meet the timber and forestry sectors’ need for a neutral international information exchange hub for building mutual support and cooperation between suppliers and buyers, businesses large and small, developed and developing countries. 

The GTF website – www.gtf-info.com – focuses on the sectors’ core news and information topics; from making the most of the timber resource and marketing, to green building and anti-illegal timber trade measures. It also features a live, impartial open access forum, where visitors can discuss issues, exchange ideas and highlight the latest technical and business developments.

Filling a communication gap

“By providing information and knowledge through a dedicated business-to-business channel, the GTF fills a significant gap in communication between consumer and producer companies in the industry,” said Robert Simpson, Manager of the FAO FLEGT Programme.

The GTF’s stated aim is not just to build trade links. It is also to give the sector, notably small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), a stronger voice to market and decision makers and, by facilitating greater cross-trade collaboration, support development of long-term solutions to current challenges.

Another core GTF function is coordinating on-the-ground projects and communications to build support for responsible trade and to help businesses meet national and regional market legality requirements, such as those of the EU Timber Regulation, US Lacey Act and Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation.

SMEs and their trade federations are a prime focus for this work too.  “There’s a clear business case for ‘going legal', but it’s more difficult for supplier SMEs,” said Mr Simpson. “The GTF connects them with buyer markets, helping them through latest legality regulation and encouraging private sector engagement in wider governance issues.”

Additionally the GTF undertakes reports and analysis on other headline trade issues based on direct industry liaison. Initiating and enabling face-to-face networking and exchange is another activity, with the GTF 2015 Summit in Shanghai drawing speakers and delegates from around the world, addressing topics from market access, to timber building.

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