Paris Olympics drops ban on tropical timber

“After significant industry pressure, the Paris Olympics has relented on its near-100% prohibition on the use of tropical timbers”

Timber was already being widely used for a variety of building and park designs for the 2024 Paris Olympics, which aims to have a low environmental impact. However, tropical wood, which had been banned, will now be used in Games projects as well, after industry intervention convinced delivery authority Solideo to reconsider its prohibition.

The French timber industry has worked hard to make Games projects a showcase for the use of wood, with arenas, the Athletes’ Village, and more, all featuring the material. It established France Bois 2024 under industry umbrella organisation France-Bois Forét to promote timber as the primary building material for an all-time low carbon Games. It has also mobilised the French timber sector to collaborate with architects, designers, and contractors to make the technical and environmental case for wood in project tenders.

In this context, Solideo’s decision to prohibit the use of wood from “exotic and boreal origins outside the EU,” save for exceptional reasons like fire safety, sparked an industry backlash:

A letter was written to the delivery authority by a number of organisations, including the French wood trade group Le Commerce du Bois, the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT), the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition, and the International Tropical Timber Organization. They claimed that the ban compromised the mission to make the Games as environmentally friendly as possible. It threatened to erode public and professional trust in tropical timber, and hinder efforts in supplier countries to establish timber legality assurance systems and support the adoption of certified sustainable forest management.

They also made mention of the view of France’s Ministry of Ecological Transition, quoting it in the letter: “if tropical timbers are boycotted, tropical forests lose their capacity to generate foreign currency. There is then strong pressure to clear them for agriculture”.

The tropical prohibition was lifted on June 16, according to ATIBT. A tender was then issued for the supply of 4,400m2 of tali for decking and obstacles across the Olympic Park. The ATIBT stated it wishes Solideo had altered its mind sooner so that tropical wood might have been used in the construction of even more facilities.

According to France Bois 2024, the Athletes’ Village used 19,000m3 of timber in wood-structured buildings with a total floor space of 80,000m2 and timber facades on structures with a total floor space of 200,000m2. In other Games projects, 10,000m3 of timber has been used.

Whether you are looking for tropical species or other types of timber, Quercus is sure to have what you need. Call us on 0845 50 50 311 and find out how we can help you select and source a timber that meets our high standards, and is right for you.