Is there a Commercial Case for Tropical Timber Certification?

  • Rachel Crossley
  • Carlos A. Primo Braga
  • Panayotis N. Varangis


Environmental concerns in developed countries about the link between trade in tropical timber and deforestation have fueled demands for the use of trade measures as a way to influence production processes in exporting countries. Calls for bans of tropical timber and for consumer boycotts proliferated in developed countries in the 1980s, but were generally not successful and subject to controversy. More recently, however, timber certification (TC) has been identified as a potentially better instrument with which to promote sound forestry practices.


European Union Timber Product Sustainable Forest Management Trade Diversion Tropical Timber 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 3.
    International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Report of the Working Party on Certification of all Timber and Timber Products (Cartagena: ITTO, May 1994).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    J. R. Vincent, “The Tropical Timber Trade and Sustainable Development”, Science, 256 (1992) p. 1651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 7.
    General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, “Increases in Market Access Resulting from the Uruguay Round”, News of the Uruguay Round, April 1994.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    D. Winterhalter and D. L. Cassens, United States Hardwood Forests: Consumer Perception and Willingness to Pay (Purdue University, Department of Forestry, 1993).Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Baharuddin Haji Gazali and Markku Simula, Certification Scheme for All Timber and Timber Products (Cartagena: ITTO, May 1994).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    A comparison with the results of a survey on organic food may help put the “green premium” for tropical timber issue in perspective. Based on a national survey, Van Ravensway and John Hoehn reported that the increased price that consumers in the United States are willing to pay for health and environmental attributes is between 5 and 7 per cent on average. See Van Ravensway and John Hoehn, “Consumer Willingness to Pay for Reducing Pesticides Residues in Food: Results of a Nationwide Survey”, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, mimeo, March 1991.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Johnson and Cabarle report that demand for wood from sustainable sources presently barely influences the Japanese local market. See N. Johnson, and B. Cabarle, Surviving the Cut: Natural Forest Management in Humid Tropics (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 1993).Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    On high-value markets for tropical sawnwood, plywood and veneer in the European Community, see FAO, High-value Markets for Tropical Sawnwood, Plywood and Veneer in the European Community (Rome: FAO, October 1991).Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    P. N. Varangis, C. A. Primo Braga and K. Takeuchi, “Tropical Timber Trade Policies: What Impact Will Ecolabelling Have?”, Wirtschaftspolitische Blatter, vol. 3/4 (1993), pp. 338–51.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    This is not just a valid description of only the intermediate dynamics, as noted by A. Mattoo and H. V. Singh, “Eco-Labelling: Policy Considerations”, Kyklos, vol. 47 (1994), pp. 53–65. These authors assume that the demand for certified tropical timber is greater than the supply at the pre-labelling price. However, available estimates suggest that this is not an accurate description of the current situation. With supply of certified timber estimated at around one million cubic metres, demand is tentatively estimated to be at least two to three times as much. Thus, the situation of the existence of excess demand for certified timber described in the Annex is a more accurate representation of the tropical timber market.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 21.
    See Johnson and Cabarle, op. cit., and “The Greening of Protectionism”, The Economist, 27 February–5 March 1993, p. 28.Google Scholar
  12. 24.
    This section draws mainly on M. Ahmad, “The Importance of Eco-labeling and Timber Certification for Indonesia’s Export Markets”, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, mimeo, 1994.Google Scholar
  13. 26.
    See Paris and Ruzicka, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Role of Rent Appropriation in Sustainable Forest Management”, Environmental Office Occasional Paper, no. 1, Asian Development Bank, Manila, 1991.Google Scholar
  14. 28.
    Jaakko Pöyry, “Tropical Deforestation in Asia and Market for Wood”, Consultant’s Report to the World Bank, 1993.Google Scholar
  15. 29.
    Ani Septiani and Joana Elliot, “Viability of Eco-Labeling Indonesian Wood Products as a Means of Enabling Sustainable Forest Management”, NRMP, Jakarta, 1994.Google Scholar
  16. 31.
    See World Bank, “Strategy for Forest Sector Developing in Asia”, Asia Technical Department Series, Technical paper no. 182, 1992.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© United Nations 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Crossley
  • Carlos A. Primo Braga
  • Panayotis N. Varangis

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations