The Forest Trust

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The Forest Trust (TFT) (formerly the Tropical Forest Trust) is a global environmental charity[1] that helps companies run responsible supply chains.

Working predominately in palm oil, pulp and paper and timber, TFT works at the point of raw material extraction (forest, plantation, quarry), through to production in mills and factories to ensure products are traceable throughout the supply chain and that people and environment are respected.

The majority of the organisation's staff are field-based, working with plantation and factory staff and owners. TFT’s business support teams work with buyers/procurement teams and senior management and their supply chain partners to understand what they can do to source products more responsibly.

TFT has offices in the UK, France, Switzerland (head office), Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, China, India, the United States, Brazil, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Liberia.


TFT was founded by Scott Poynton in 1999 after encouraging six major European retailers and their main suppliers to invest in eradicating illegal timber from their garden furniture supply chains. The companies were inspired to invest and leverage their supply chains to transform practices on the ground. TFT set up traceability systems to help bring forests up to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified standards, the first time occurrence of the standard in the garden furniture industry.

In 2010, TFT changed its name from The Tropical Forest Trust to The Forest Trust. As the organisation’s presence grew in forests around the world, TFT was no longer only focussing on tropical forests. The organisation is now more commonly referred to as TFT to reflect the fact that some of the product groups it works across - such as stone - are not sourced from forests.

Approach and method[edit]

TFT focuses on natural resource extraction, social issues and supply chain transparency. The organisation helps its members to develop raw material and product sourcing strategies. TFT traces supply chains back to the source of the raw material to identify key social and environmental risks to help its members to manage and monitor their supply.

Projects and successes[edit]

Wilmar International[edit]

On 5 December 2013, after months of negotiation with TFT, the world's largest palm oil company Wilmar – which trades 45% of the world’s palm oil – announced a landmark No Deforestation, No Exploitation policy. Its commitment extends to all of its operations worldwide, which includes all of its subsidiaries, any refinery, mill or plantation it owns, manages, or has invested in, regardless of stake, as well as, all third-party suppliers from whom it purchases or with whom it has a trading relationship. TFT teams are working on the ground in Indonesia, Malaysia and Uganda to help suppliers understand and embed the change.

Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP)[edit]

In February 2012 TFT began working with Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP), one of the world’s largest producers of paper and pulp. On 5 February 2013, APP announced an immediate end to all natural forest clearing in its supply chains in Indonesia and published its Forest Conservation Policy which outlined its commitment to ‘No Deforestation’.[2][3] APP has also pledged to recognise and respect the rights of the region’s indigenous peoples, many of whom depend for their livelihoods on forest resources; and protect forested peatlands that store substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. TFT will be closely monitoring the implementation of APP’s forest management policy and reporting on progress.[4]

Nestle’s Responsible Sourcing Guidelines[edit]

In May 2010, through partnership with TFT, Nestlé announced Responsible Sourcing Guidelines (RSGs) for its palm oil suppliers. Many Nestlé products contain the ingredient palm oil, widely associated with the deforestation of tropical rainforests. TFT worked with Nestlé to produce a set of critical requirements to guide the Nestlé procurement process and to ensure compliance with the Nestlé Supplier Code. Nestlé and TFT have put in place a supplier assessment process that sees Nestlé working with suppliers to recognise weaknesses and help them to become a “No Deforestation” supplier.

Golden Agri-Resources’ Forest Conservation policy[edit]

In late 2010, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), the world’s second largest producer of palm oil agreed to a new standard ensure its subsidiaries conserve vulnerable carbon-rich forests and peatlands in Indonesia through an agreement with TFT.[5] The process leading to GAR’s announcement began with Nestlés introduction of its RSGs and its dropping of palm oil supplier, SMART, the parent company of GAR, after its implication in the production of unsustainable palm oil.[6] This sent a strong message to its suppliers, one of whom was GAR, that it would no longer accept materials that led to the destruction of valuable forests. This pressure helped draw GAR to the bargaining table, where it agreed to address problems of deforestation in its supply chain.[7] The agreement has seen a positive change in GAR's and its subsidiaries' forest activities. A report published by Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental NGO, has found evidence that GAR's subsidiaries are delivering on their commitment to avoid the clearing of carbon intensive forest in Indonesian Borneo.[8] Analyzing satellite imagery, Greenomics found that three of GAR's companies — PT Paramitra Internusa Pratama (PIP), PT Persada Graha Mandiri (PGM), and PT Kartika Prima Cipta (KPC) — operating in Kapuas Hulu Regency have preserved three blocks of secondary peat swamp within their concessions.[9]

The Centre for Social Excellence[edit]

TFT launched the Centre for Social Excellence (CSE) in June 2009 based in Brazzaville (Republic of Congo) and Yaoundé (Cameroon). The CSE was established to promote social forestry skills to graduate-level students in the Congo Basin. The CSE was founded on the unifying principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), which recognises the rights of indigenous people's to their land and resources and respects their legitimate authority and requires that third parties enter into an equal and respectful relationship with them. In practice this means that communities living in forest concessions managed by others should be fully informed about all forest activities and must freely give their consent before any of these activities begin.

Now permanently based in Yaoundé, The CSE has an intake of 10 students per teaching year who undergo five months of intensive training and field research, followed by a five-month work placement at a forestry company in their home country.

Drop the guns, Java[edit]

In 2001, Indonesian state-owned forestry company Perum Perhutani had its FSC certificates removed after increasing timber theft from its forest districts led to deadly conflicts between armed guards and villagers. TFT worked with Perhutani to instigate the ‘Drop the Guns’ programme, which by 2011 had put an end to armed patrolling by Perum Perhutani guards in all forest districts. TFT and Perhutani staff visited and talked with residents in nearly 2,000 villages in impoverished local communities to hear their complaints and ask what they would propose as solutions. This led to a land-sharing agreement between the company and communities.

The laying down of weapons was an integral to Perhutani earning back its FSC certificates. It is hoped the programme could serve as a model for averting conflicts over millions of hectares of contested lands in the valuable forests of South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, as governments and the private sector seek agreements based on climate change funding schemes such as the reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) program.

Luang Prabang, Laos[edit]

The TFT has supported teak farmers in Kok Gniew village, Luang Prabang province, Laos since 2007, assisting them in working towards FSC certification which was award in May 2011. This is one of the first community forest certifications in Laos under the FSC scheme and marked an important milestone in the development of community forestry in Laos.

Given the difficulties the province presented in the quest for sustainable forestry; the complex government structure, poor infrastructure and the small, isolated, nature of the forest holdings, this project offers a tangible blue print to how a potentially difficult and problematic program can be undertaken and achieve a positive result. This FSC certificate demonstrates that the approach to develop sustainable small holder forestry is a workable and replicable solution for Luang Prabang province and for the country as a whole.

Previous experiences with the FOMACOP project has highlighted that there is an issue with FSC certification in Laos. The status of this experience is unclear.

Congolaise Industrielle des Bois, Congo Basin[edit]

TFT has worked with timber company Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB) to address the needs of Pygmy populations in the Congo Basin. Part of the ongoing programme has involved the establishment of a community radio station, Biso na Biso, broadcast from Polola, The Republic of Congo. Biso na Biso is ran by and for indigenous Pygmy communities in the area.

Timber Trade Action Plan[edit]

Managed by TFT in partnership with a number of European Timber Trade Federations, the Timber Trade Action Plan (TTAP) is a project funded by the European Union that aims to reduce the trade in illegal wood products and contribute to sustainable forest management.

Forests Now Declaration[edit]

TFT has also endorsed the Forests Now Declaration, calling for new market based mechanisms to protect forests.


In North America and Europe demand for FSC certified wood has led to many millions of forest hectares achieving certification. However, there has been less rapid certification in developing countries. Tropical forest managers are often unsure of how to achieve certification and they face highly complex forest management contexts that make achieving certification difficult. Even securing wood from known legal sources is challenging in many tropical countries where enforcement systems are weak and illegal logging is common.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Terms and Conditions". Retrieved 01/03/2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ Fiona, Harvey (05/02/2013). "Leading paper firm pledges to halt Indonesian deforestation". Guardian. Retrieved 01/03/2013.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ Sara, Schonhardt (05/02/2013). "Paper Producer to Stop Clearing of Indonesian Forests". The New York Times. Retrieved 01/03/2013.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  4. ^ "Asia Pulp and Paper Group Forest Conservation Policy" (PDF). 3 February 2013. Retrieved 01/03/2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ Golden Agri Resources. "Forest Conservation Policy". 
  6. ^ "Nestle will cut off palm oil suppliers who destroy the rainforest". The Telegraph. 2013-05-18. 
  7. ^ Greenpeace (23 May 2011). "One year after Nestlé committed to giving rainforests a break What has been achieved?". 
  8. ^ Greenomics Indonesia (24 May 2012). "What has been learnt form the first year of Golden Agri's forest conservation policy in West Kalimantan?" (PDF). 
  9. ^ Rhett, Butler (29 May 2012). "Palm oil giant making good on forest commitment in Indonesia, finds independent analysis". Mongabay. Retrieved 01/03/2013.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]