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Exploring fair trade timber: A review of current practice, institutional structures and possible ways forward

Duncan Macqueen, Annie Dufey, Bindi Patel

Book/Report, 58 pages

The great expansion in community ownership and management of forests presents a historic opportunity. Communities now own or manage one fourth of the forests in developing countries. Certification, eco-labelling and social auditing have all been set up to improve the forest sector. High hopes for forest livelihoods and poverty reduction have surrounded their use but each has had its limitations. It is now time to examine other complementary instruments. Fair trade may be one such instrument. An alliance of institutions interested in promoting fair trade timber is beginning to form. This report outlines some of the options for building on this momentum and enhancing local returns from responsible forestry.

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Fair trade has done much to help community enterprises – but mainly in agriculture, not forestry. It is now time to examine the demand and potential of a mechanism, such as fair trade, that can both empower and distinguish community forest products in the market place – opening up new market niches through which ethical consumers can channel their purchasing power.

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Exploring fair trade timber