A world first: Furniture Made from FSC and Fairtrade Timber
New opportunities for small-scale and community producers
Tables, chairs, benches…. just regular items at a furniture trade show – or so you might think. This furniture, however, is extraordinary. Because for forest workers in Bolivia it means the chance of a better life.
At the international furnishing show (imm) in Germany this week, the Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC) and Fairtrade are presenting a new kind of furniture; the first to carry the dual FSC and Fairtrade label. In a unique pilot project between the two organizations, small-scale and community producers in developing countries can access the international market, and improve their living and working conditions.
For poor rural communities, forests are one of the most important ways to earn a living and to maintain their ethnical identity and culture. FSC certification guarantees that forests are managed according to strict social, ecological and economical standards. Safe labour conditions including compliance with the ILO core conventions are also required. By combining FSC certification with Fairtrade Standards, small-scale and community producers also receive a fair price for the wood they supply, along with the Fairtrade Premium.
The first smallholders producing FSC and Fairtrade certified timber are located in Bolivia, Chile and Honduras. The wood for the first furniture comes from smallholder Multiagro in Bolivia. Its members already have plans for the first Fairtrade Premium payment: Educational material for the community’s children. A scholarship fund so children can attend secondary school and a health fund to cover treatment expenses are also being considered. But for now, these ideas are still dreams. “The most important question for us is whether there are buyers prepared to purchase the products made from our FSC and Fairtrade-certified timber“, says Juan Pablo Demeure from Multiagro, who is leading the family business in the second generation. “The whole project will only work if there are customers who are willing to pay a little bit more for the timber.”
The first pieces of furniture made from FSC-Fairtrade-certified timber will be sold in Germany and Austria and include tables, cupboards, benches and chairs. One Swedish company also recently launched FSC and Fairtrade-labelled parquet flooring, made with timber from Chile.
Find stockists of FSC and Fairtrade certified timber products on Fairtrade Germany’s product database.