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Fair Wood Bar Opens in Central Stockholm

© FSC Sweden

The real heroes are those who buy hardwood from smallholders in the global South! The concept of Fair Wood gives forest communities and Indigenous groups the opportunity to sell timber on the global market and receive fair pay, while FSC certification ensures the responsible management of their forests.

We met up with Aaron Kaplan, CEO of Sense Group and Eco Innovation Foundation, and one of the founders of the Fair Wood project, at United Spaces’ new Fair Wood bar in Stockholm, Sweden. Fair Wood, an initiative that is a member of FSC Sweden, seeks to create market access for forest smallholders from the global South, as well as contributing to responsible forest management in areas that are threatened by deforestation. The new bar, located in the Waterfront Building at Klarabergsviadukten, is built entirely from Fair Wood.

Is it too late? Or can we make a difference?

© FSC Sweden

Many of the world's forests are facing major challenges. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 13 million hectares are being deforested every year – an area that corresponds to half of all the forest in Sweden. Furthermore, people who depend on these forests for their livelihoods are often treated unfairly, often having no secure rights to their land. Poverty and corruption are two important causes of forest degradation.

Fair Wood is a concept that includes many different ways to make a difference. It is about strengthening the rights of local communities to use their forests, and giving them access to the global market and fair pay. It sprung out of a 2008 pilot project in Chile that gave forest communities and Indigenous groups in the Curacautín valley the possibility of developing responsible forest management in previously over-exploited forests. The project started a sawmill which was run by local people, and supported local forest associations to become FSC certified.

“What distinguishes Fair Wood from other wood from the global South is that it comes from forests that are managed by smallholders, and that its economic and ecological value is increased because it is FSC certified,” said Aaron Kaplan. “We apply the ‘Swedish model’ of commercial forestry as an incentive to plant trees and restore forests. It is perhaps something which we in Sweden see as obvious, but is not in these areas,” he continues.

© FSC Sweden

Today extensive research gives us a clear picture of the status of our planet and its forests. Deforestation is the main cause of biodiversity loss, and by itself contributes to as much climate change as the entire transport sector. But despite this collective knowledge and many good initiatives, we are not responding fast enough. Aaron says that many of the solutions put forward today are pseudo-solutions, and are simply not good enough:

“We have to go from the perspective of ‘destroying a little less’ to create markets that support the restoration of healthy ecosystems. We have partially done this in Sweden: we have standing forests and large timber volumes as a result of our market access. But we still have challenges here, for example how we value and manage biodiversity and ecosystem services in Swedish forests. We need to value the forest for more than just the timber volumes that it provides.”

As well as supporting this perspective, the Fair Wood concept is also about bringing back the value of wood as a material in the market, relative to other materials like laminate, metal, and plastic. It is imperative to achieve this using wood produced through responsible forest management.

How does the Fair Wood bar fit in?

 Sense Group and Eco Innovation Foundation are members of the United Spaces, a co-working space in Stockholm. They have worked together to create the bar.

“It was the owners who contacted us in the process of opening up a second floor in their Waterfront Building, and were inspired to build a bar out of wood from Fair Wood,” says Aaron. “It's a refreshing step forward that the owners are eager to be a part of this and support a more sustainable and inviting working space.”

Aaron says that they want to be a force in the transformation towards sustainability by working with Fair Wood, and that the bar is a great way to show what is possible.