Governments, corporations and consumers are increasingly sourcing forest products from certified and responsibly managed forests. Certification enables them to make informed choices about the products they buy, and drive demand for forest practices that keep forests healthy for generations to come.
Canada is well placed to cater to the wood-starved Indian market, says Pranesh Chhibber, country director of Forestry Innovation Consulting India Pvt Ltd. He informs that the North American country is a global supplier of quality and environmentally responsible wood products from sustainably managed forests. In India, Canadian forestry produce is being promoted by Forestry Innovation, which is a subsidiary of Forestry Innovation Investment (FII), set up under crown agency of the Government of British Columbia (BC) in Canada.
What trends are you observing in the wood applications in India? What has been the role of product and space design professionals in this regard?
The major trends that we are witnessing are that designers and manufacturers prefer to use duly-graded, consistently-sized and seasoned lumber to optimise production without having to waste time in sorting out wood, as it used to be in the past. Five years ago, the share of softwood imports was 33% of total wood imports to India. Today, it has increased to 45%. Another encouraging trend being observed is that of lumber imports. Lumber is wood that has been cut to size, in the shape of beams and planks. Over the last five years, the share of lumber imports has increased from 9% to 22% of total wood imports to India.
The acceptance of furniture made with lighter shades of wood as well as lightweight wood has increased due to advantages in logistics, as well as shifting within the premises. There is an upward trend in increased usage of wood in the second home category by architects, manufacturers, and HNIs looking at holiday homes, farmhouses and villas. Similarly, the hospitality industry is building resorts using wood in structural applications.
What is your opinion, are the key drivers of wood consumption in the country? What are the major application segments?
India is a wood deficit country and has to rely on imported wood to meet its requirements. The significant applications or segments in India are paneling, cladding, furniture (indoor and outdoor), joinery (doors and windows), and pergolas or gazebos, among others. Additionally, affordable branded furniture is making its presence felt through online and brick-and-mortar stores.
What impact does responsible forestry have on business practices, right up to the point of usage by OEMs?
Many organisations have created forest product procurement strategies so that their suppliers know that they will only buy products from legal and sustainable sources. In many cases, these strategies specify suppliers and products that are certified to credible programmes such as CSA, FSC or SFI. BC (British Columbia) and Canadian companies are using chain-of-custody certification to prove that their products come from legal and responsibly managed forests. Canada is a world leader in forest certification and can provide buyers with quality certified products that meet any need, from lumber and furniture to paper and pellets.
How conversant is the Indian woodworking industry with the concept of responsible forestry?
Indian woodworking is in the initial stages of working with certified wood from sustainable sources such as PEFC and FSC. It is also because international buyers are asking the furniture and artefacts exporters from India to use certified wood for making products for them. Moreover, architects and designers are increasingly getting conscious and particular about LEED points in their projects.
What is the scale of the forestry industry in Canada? What have been the key trends?
Canada has 10% of the world’s total forest cover and is the world leader in sustainable forest management practices by a wide margin. Despite being the largest exporter of lumber in the world, it has undergone zero % deforestation over the last three decades. The government allows less than 1% of the forest to be harvested each year, and BC alone is responsible for over 50% of Canada’s lumber exports.
What has been the share of Canadian wood in India’s imports?
It is observed that the share of softwood lumber imports into India from around the world is growing. Over the last five years, it has grown from 4% to 14%. We expect this share to increase up to 25% for the next three years. Canada’s share of total softwood lumber imports to India has been around 5%.
How are you engaging with design professionals to ensure that wood is used responsibly and creatively?
FII India is engaged in spreading education and awareness about sustainability and certification through educational seminars, workshops, roadshows, and one-on-one presentations. This is besides helping manufacturers in the industry select the right grades and sizes to optimise their production. FII also helps them through technical support, handholding and sharing best practices and making available the relevant expertise from BC, be it in building with wood or just structural engineering or even wood solutions in architecture.
What steps has FII India taken to skill Indian carpenters?
FII India is doing its bit to support ‘Skill India’ initiative by the Government of India. We are associating with Furniture & Fittings Skill Council (FFSC) to help carpenters and contractors, by conducting 3-4 training workshops every month in different cities across India.
Does FII India have programmes to educate players in the woodworking industry about best practices, particularly concerning management, HR, marketing, etc.?
FII India has a comprehensive programme of educational seminars and training workshops which are conducted every month. Besides, we work with FFSC to equip its members with knowledge and skills that will improve their business, as well as the livelihood of their team members.