The inadequacy of trade-related information is a major stumbling block to developing and sustaining valuable markets for tropical timber products. It is only through the free flow of reliable information on forests and trade that governments and industry can evaluate their resources, set development goals and take appropriate action to grow the trade, capture more of its value, and discourage illegal activities.
Transparency is also important for other reasons. Consumers increasingly seek evidence that the timber they buy has been harvested legally and from well-managed forests. Equally, forest owners and people living in the forest want reassurance that a fair share of the benefits of the timber trade are used to improve local livelihoods and to meet the costs of sustainable forest management.
The tropical timber trade and forest industry still face considerable hurdles if they are to maximize their contribution to sustainable development and tropical forest conservation; there is still a need for more information on trade, greater development of the processing sector, and greater access to consumer markets.