The Forest Trust
The Forest Trust (TFT), formerly the Tropical Forest Trust, is a non-profit organisation which is registered as a charity. It works with global companies, NGOs and communities to positively affect people and nature, as well as the businesses which use the raw materials from those environments in their products.
The majority of TFT’s staff are based in forests, plantations and quarries where commodities are grown, through to production in mills and factories throughout the world. TFT’s business support teams work with TFT members’ buyers/procurement teams and senior management and their supply chain partners to understand what they can do to source products more responsibly.
TFT works with its members, which range from global brands and commodity producing and growing businesses across a variety of product groups, including: palm oil, pulp and paper, wood, charcoal, cocoa, stone, coconut, rubber, soy and sugar. TFT has offices in Switzerland, France, UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Laos, Vietnam, India, Australia, Liberia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, USA, Brazil and Ecuador.
TFT was founded by Scott Poynton in 1999 after he encouraged six major European retailers and their main suppliers to invest in eradicating illegal logging from their garden furniture supply chains. The companies were invested and leveraged 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 focusing 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.
TFT works with its members to trace their supply chains back to the source of the raw material they use, identifying key social and environmental risks to help members to manage and monitor their supply chains.
TFT members work with products made from raw materials grown or extracted from the land. Members vary by size, location, history, type of products and their position in the supply chain. Each member is unique and faces specific challenges and opportunities to change how products are sourced.
TFT began working in wood in 1999. In 1999, ScanCom, a garden furniture company, and six other timber companies, joined TFT as founding members to pursue sourcing responsible wood. TFT then supported various community forests and local communities to become FSC certified.
Shisham farmers in Punjab and Haryana, India, continue to be supported by TFT and member company Maison du Monde.
TFT's work after 2004 often involved land conflicts, which required mediation between stakeholders for a satisfactory outcome for all parties. TFT helped Congolaise Industrielle de Bois (CIB), a forest company in Congo-Brazaville, to better respect local people's land rights. To enable communication and consultation with the semi-nomadic indigenous Pygmy communities, TFT created a new mapping technology. This was in the form of a handheld GPS device that the Pygmy communities could use to mark out medicinal, food producing, or sacred areas and trees. In 2007, TFT helped CIB to establish the first indigenous Pygmy language radio station in the Congo Basin. The station, called Biso na Biso (‘Between Us’ in the local language) fostered communication between different Pygmy communities. Biso na Biso enabled the communities to share news across vast areas, and distributed information about rights gained through the FSC system.
In 2001, Perhutani, a logging company in Java, Indonesia, lost their FSC licence after it was discovered that their forest rangers were patrolling with guns. TFT helped Perhutani to run a high profile ‘Drop the Guns’ campaign that addressed the root causes leading to rangers carrying guns. As part of the campaign, Perhutani worked to give the communities benefit from the legal trade so that they wouldn’t illegally fell. TFT also negotiated with staff and other stakeholders, resulting in a land sharing agreement between the company and the communities. Ultimately, in 2011, Perhutani was able to collect up and lock away the guns that rangers had previously been patrolling with. Perhutani made great progress, so much so that they were able to regain their FSC certificate in 2011. Unfortunately, a subsequent breach of the Drop the Guns policy in 2014 led TFT to suspend them and FSC to once again withdraw their certification.
From 2005 to 2013, TFT delivered the Timber Trade Action Plan (TTAP), funded by the EU. TTAP provided advice and support to European buyers of timber, and their producers in 10 different countries. The project improved conditions for forest workers in the countries exporting to the EU, ensured respect for communities, and led to more responsible management of tropical forests.
TFT developed SURE technology to help companies implement the European Union Timber Regulation. SURE is a set of tools that help companies plan, understand and communicate their supply chains. These tools include transparency dashboards, a due diligence system, risk management, and supply chain mapping.
Some community wood projects have ended, with TFT help no longer required to maintain high standards, or insufficient international demand stalling efforts for high quality products. However, a couple of projects in Indonesia continue, with funding from RAFT (Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade) supporting continued and potential FSC certification.
TFT has developed an approach to transform the palm oil industry and believes that palm oil certification alone is not the answer. Starting with Nestlé in 2010, it has gone on to work with palm oil growers, mills and processors in more than 20 countries. Its palm oil members include Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources, Nestlé, Ferrero, Mars, Reckitt Benckiser, and Danone.
It has palm oil teams in Indonesia, Malaysia, Ivory Coast and Cameroon - which support activities with palm oil producers across Central and West Africa - as well as operations in Central and South America, as development of plantations continues to gain momentum. It also supports work on the ground in many other countries such as Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, among others.
TFT palm oil papers
On 5 December 2013, after months of negotiation with TFT, the world's largest palm oil company Wilmar International – 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 work on the ground in Indonesia, Malaysia and Uganda to help suppliers change their practices.
Nestle’s Responsible Sourcing Guidelines
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
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. The process leading to GAR’s announcement began with Nestlé's introduction of its Responsible Sourcing Guidelines and its dropping of palm oil supplier, SMART, the parent company of GAR, after its implication in the production of unsustainable palm oil. 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. 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. 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 worked to save three blocks of secondary peat swamp inside their concessions.
Pulp and Paper
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’. 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 monitor the implementation of APP’s forest conservation policy and report on progress.
TFT's Responsible Stone Programme works to improve standards for workers in natural stone quarries and factories. Members of the programme include Beltrami, Stoneasy, Everfine, Aggregate Industries and Dekker Natuursteen (NL).
Working with a whole space, rather than an individual concession or company, allows for land planning that delivers for all stakeholders. Focusing on pilot areas in Indonesia, Brazil and Peru, TFT has mediated and developed a land use plan and built local capacity for participation in the process.
SURE technology, launched by TFT in 2013, is a database that allows companies to communicate with their suppliers about raw material sources. This makes the buying process easier, enabling companies to approve or monitor their suppliers.
Starling was launched in June 2017. The tool, developed jointly by TFT, SarVision and Airbus Defence and Space, uses optical and radar satellites to survey land concessions of companies and their suppliers to monitor the progress of their No Deforestation commitments. The service has been trialled by TFT members Nestlé and Ferrero.
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