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The Reports section contains GTF and timber sector reports, analysis and statistics.

  • New approach to increase responsible wood processing by African micro-businesses

    LONDON, 22ND OCTOBER 2018: West, Central and East African associations outline support needed for 10,000 micro-businesses.


    Identifies a ‘micro-business paradox’ with opportunities for change at scale being missed.


    Research with twenty-one wood industry associations across six African countries reveals for the first time the extent of micro-businesses within their membership, the scale of the challenge facing those businesses, and the consequent support needed for their associations to drive positive change at scale.

    As part of the Global Timber Forum’s (GTF) ongoing multi-region research programme, these results highlight research in countries across West, Central and East Africa. The results show that these twenty-one associations together represent over eleven thousand African companies with eighty-five per cent of these members being defined as ‘micro’-sized. The membership across the six countries is dominated by operators in the forest sector and in primary processing (and charcoal). Joinery and furniture are significant products areas for members in three of the countries.

    Five key challenges reported by associations for their micro-business membership are:

    1. Lack of access to the legal wood supply.
    2. Uncertainties about compliance with a changing legal environment.
    3. Limited availability of finance to ultimately gain access to more profitable markets via adopting new technologies that utilise all species of wood and can handle plantation timber.
    4. Absence of a marketing capability to reach and influence potential customers.
    5. A perceived low market demand for more sustainably produced products.

    Identifying the ‘micro-business paradox’

    This new research shows that the paradox for micro- businesses is that the greater their need of support, the less resources they have to provide to their local association to fund that support. The findings reveal that the average income for associations in these six countries is just 33,000 USD per year.

    Whilst much has been done by governments and the international community to work with large and even medium-sized companies, the diminishing returns of working with the micro-sector leave it largely unchanged despite its overall size and impact. Associations are therefore an untapped resource to reach micro-businesses at scale.

    Developing associations to support micro-businesses

    Recognising this potential for associations to provide services to micro-business members, the new research asked associations to set out their key challenges as organisations.

    Five key challenges for associations:
    1. Access to finance to build their capacity to support their membership.
    2. Recruiting skilled personnel in areas that can support their members business development such as marketing, production and added-value product development.
    3. A lack of tools to support their membership who face changing forest legality systems and developing sustainability requirements.
    4. Up-to-date market data to support their members in building a greater understanding of changing trade flows.
    5. Limited understanding of how to engage government and stakeholders on issues such as changing legality standards.

    There was a common view expressed across the interviews with individual associations that they would most benefit from targeted and sustained training schemes. The content for this training was again similar across the associations and included: operational best practice, the requirements of legality and sustainability systems, effective marketing skills, and stakeholder representation and engagement.

    George White, Director of GTF and who led the research programme said “We already knew that many of the associations GTF has worked with are dominated by small and medium-sized companies but were surprised by the high levels of micro-sized operations. This represents a huge challenge for those who want to see the development of a more responsible trade. GTF is now utilising these market insights to develop an association training programme that can be part of the solution to supporting micro-businesses on their sustainability journey.”



    Notes to editors

    1. The GTF’s Association Survey for Knowledge (ASK) research programme seeks to better understand the challenges faced by forest and wood-based industry and trade associations around the world.
    2. The West, Central and East Africa report’s research was undertaken with associations in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia and Mozambique.
    3. All research was undertaken by interview from March to June 2018.
    4. The survey was made up of three complementary sections. Respondent associations were encouraged to complete all three sections. Associations were identified by local experts and interviews arranged with the senior management of the associations.
    5. For the purposes of this research the following definitions were used to identify company sizes: Large – a company with more than 250 employees, Medium – a company with 51 to 250 employees, Small – with 11 to 50 employees and Micro – with 10 or less employees.
    6. The survey was developed in collaboration with GTF’s project partners: UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) and WRI (World Resources Institute). The views expressed are only those of GTF.

    7. The individual survey results are anonymised and non-attributable.

    Further information:
    To receive a copy of the report or to find out further information please contact:

    This material has been funded by FAO EU-FLEGT Programme and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union, Swedish government, UK government or the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

  • Towards a positive gender balance in the Ghanaian wood processing industry

    ACCRA, 12th OCTOBER 2018: New study describes existing gender balance and makes recommendations.

    The Global Timber Forum (GTF) today publishes a commissioned analysis of gender in the wood processing sector in Ghana.

    The new study reveals that in the wood processing sector women workers are much less visible than their male counterparts yet are involved in multiple areas of the value chain. This involvement ranges from the administration and provision of labour through to acting as financiers of business.

    At a country-level, other studies on gender balance have previously shown that Ghana outperforms many regional neighbours in sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, the country ranks 72 out of 144 countries across all criteria in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2017 and has a particularly high score for the criteria of ‘economic participation and opportunity’.

    The study identifies the following key findings:

    • Participation of women exists across all points of the wood processing sector.
    • Roles assigned to men and women in the sector are however defined by the historical and socio-cultural context.
    • Women’s involvement in leadership and governance of wood processing associations is relatively lower than that of men.
    • There is limited understanding and appreciation of the impact of gender imbalances in the sector, even amongst those men and women working in the sector.
    • Actors in the sector lack knowledge of existing laws on women’s rights to engage in, and have a voice in, the sector.

    In terms of business opportunity for the wood processing sector, the United Nations Development Programme cited a figure of 95 billion USD as lost to productivity every year through the failure to integrate women into national economies across sub-Saharan Africa.

    The study therefore makes a series of recommendations for policy makers as well as for the associations that represent the wood processing sector.

    Selected recommendations made in the study:

    • Cultural limitations to women’s agency should be acknowledged and, where necessary, purposive strategies should be followed for example where the aim is to increase women’s engagement in leadership and governance.
    • State agencies should invest in awareness raising about gender and in building capacity of their staff, and of wood processing sector associations’ leadership, in gender and gender analysis.
    • Association leadership should sensitise membership about what gender is about and raise awareness of its relevance to the contributions both female and male members make to the sector.
    • Associations should carry out simple participatory gender analysis of their organisation and members. This will increase understanding of the needs, interests and fears of both men and women engaged in the sector.

    Learning from success

    As part of the study one company was highlighted as having made a number of policy changes to improve the gender balance as well as the types of jobs available to each gender. The Bibiani Logs and Lumber Company Limited, is a family-owned business that has been in operation since the late 1960s. It employs 371 people of which women constitute 100. The Chairperson of the company is a woman.

    Both men and women are given equal opportunities for self-development on the job without any discrimination. The company’s policies make it a requirement for both men and women to be trained on all areas of production. As a result, the company has women operating a range of machinery including veneer milling.

    Recent interviews demonstrate that the steps taken on gender by the leadership of the company has increased awareness and acceptance of opportunities of equal value for men and women in the company.

    Study author, Nana Ama Yirrah, said ‘The study clearly shows an opportunity for the Ghanaian wood processing industry to attain the business benefits of a more diverse workforce. Clearly SMEs have a wide range of pressing business challenges, but I believe this study shows that some small steps can be taken now to create a more favourable gender environment. For example, this can start with putting in place gender sensitive policies and appropriate sensitisation and training.’



    Notes to Editors

    1. The full study can be found here
    2. During 2017 GTF commissioned Nana Ama Yirrah to undertake an analysis of gender in the forest industries sector in Ghana.
    3. Nana Ama Yirrah is a Land Economist, Development Policy Analyst and Gender Specialist by profession with over 21 years of experience in land and natural resource governance, land policy, women’s land rights and development practice.
    4. Methodology involved interviews with forestry association members and public sector agencies, with fifty-one interviews being held in total, representing fourteen associations and institutions, with ten of the interviewees being women. Research tools were participatory and included application of a simple gender analytical framework combined with story-telling and case studies.
    5. The study has been funded by UK Aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.


    About GTF

    Global Timber Forum (GTF)  builds the capability and capacity of forest and wood-based associations  to engage Micro and SME members on responsible trade.


    Further information

    For any enquiries please contact

  • GTF/GIZ report looking into Peruvian associations’ capacities and needs

    LIMA, 10th NOVEMBER 2017: The Peruvian forestry sector has suffered a severe setback in recent years. Since the intervention and seizure of significant volumes of illegal timber in 2015 and 2016, and the alerts issued in the countries of destination such as the USA, the demand for wood products from Peru has decreased considerably. Thus, not only timber exporters are in a challenging situation, but the entire Peruvian timber industry.

    Against this background, a study was commissioned to analyse the current organizational capacities and needs of forest and timber organizations of Peru. The authors focused on organizations that participate in different platforms and levels in the forest policy discourse. More than 40 interviews (20 forest associations, 12 independent forest companies, and 10 public institutions) were conducted in Pucallpa, Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado and Lima. In addition, three workshops were hosted.

    The study identifies a number of challenges, which are currently seriously limiting associations’ capacities:

    • limited knowledge about organizational management and limited leadership skills among association leaders;
    • a focus on solving legal problems from a very political viewpoint and not based on technical discussions;
    • little or no differentiated discourse about the technical sector needs;
    • top-down rather than bottom-up agenda setting;
    • a lack of long-term financial planning;
    • and widespread institutional weakness/informality among association.

    For more information, please download the study below. It is available in English and Spanish language.

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  • Drilling down into Due Diligence – A GTF report

    If there’s a key to the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) doing its job and keeping illegal timber off the EU market, it’s effective exercise of due diligence by the legitimate trade. That’s why the Global Timber Forum (GTF) has undertaken an international Supplier and Consumer Due Diligence Analysis, to find out just how well companies understand the concept and put it into practice.

    Under report author George White, a team of interviewers put a set questionnaire to 27 EU ‘operator’ importers, which have to undertake due diligence illegality risk assessment of all suppliers under the EUTR. They also quizzed 15 supplier companies (all in tropical countries), which today face a mass of due diligence documentation and inquiries from customers EU-wide.

    Critically, they focused on small to medium sized enterprises, which not only comprise a large part of the timber sector, but may find due diligence more of a burden as they have fewer resources to devote to it.

    For your copy of the report click below.

    Download now