Françoise van de Ven brings an African perspective to the Global Timber Forum



Global Timber Forum (GTF) Director and Board member of ATIBT as well as Secretary General of the Gabonese Forest Industries Syndicat (UFIGA), Françoise van de Ven has made it her mission to give Africa a strong voice on the GTF. As a member of the GTF Executive Board she has joined a small, established team with representatives from Guatemala, Australia, the US, the UK, and Germany.


The GTF has already supported several activities in Africa.


In 2015 it carried out SME needs assessment research and consultation in the Central African states of Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as the West African countries Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Liberia. Responsible for the research were GTF African Trade Facilitator Germain Yene from Cameroon and Ghana-based Gustav Adu, Director of Kumasi Wood Cluster Association.


Subsequently, the GTF facilitated a two-day summit in Douala that was attended by trade bodies from many of these countries. The meeting concluded that key issues to be addressed were information sharing on marketing, value addition and national timber development strategy, capacity building in management, technical skills and political lobbying as well as marketing development for export and inter-regional timber trade. Other priorities identified were legality compliance training and capacity building for associations, as well as attracting external investment for sector development on a regional basis. The meeting also backed the concept of a collaborative Central-West African network of SME associations and discussed how to work with GTF to build a ‘strong, functioning grouping’.


With Mr Adu and Mr Yene the GTF has an experienced team of local experts on the ground to carry out research and facilitate exchange between timber-sector players in Central and West Africa. Moreover, Ms van de Ven’s organisation UFIGA is planning to host a GTF-organised African regional meeting next year. UFIGA will invite associations throughout Africa to participate and identify priority activities and funding sources.


The GTF encourages African timber industry players to get involved both in the regional meeting and in general GTF activities. Interested parties can, for example, join the GTF Advisory Committee and contribute to transnational timber-sector cooperation. The Advisory Committee’s role is to inform the GTF’s activities for the trade. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact GTF Executive Director Rachel Butler (


More info :

Nouveau bureau du GTF (de gauche à droite) : Andreas von Möller, George White, Francisco Grotewold, Rachel Butler, John Halkett, Cindy Squires, and Françoise Van de Ven.
New GTF Board (from left) : Andreas von Möller, George White, Francisco Grotewold, Rachel Butler, John Halkett, Cindy Squires et Françoise Van de Ven.