3 October 2017
Forest Update: National Initiatives Progress Legal Timber Trade, Sustainable Forest Management
UN Photo/Eva Fendiaspara
story highlights

A series of regional and national developments highlight the importance of combating illegal logging and related trade, and developing the preconditions to promote legal timber trade and certification schemes.

National entities and regional initiatives, with support from UN agencies and partners, are setting and progressing towards sustainable forest management goals and objectives.

September 2017: A series of regional and national developments of relevance to forests and forestry highlight the importance of combating illegal logging and related trade, and developing the preconditions to promote legal timber trade and certification schemes. Sustainable forest management and restoration objectives have also received attention, including their potential to contribute to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Promoting Legal Timber Trade

Several meetings and initiatives held around the world aimed to combat illegal logging and trade and lay down the requirements for legal timber trade and sustainable forest management. In Jakarta, Indonesia, a national policy dialogue co-hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on 13 July 2017, brought together more than 200 policy makers, scientists, business owners and other stakeholders to discuss the potential benefits of FLEGT (Forest, Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licenses for small and medium enterprises. Indonesia is the first country to introduce FLEGT licenses, having established the system in November 2016 under the FLEGT Action Plan. Larger businesses in the country are already taking advantage of the arrangement, and the dialogue focused on supporting small and medium enterprises to obtain and benefit from FLEGT certification in order to access global markets. [CIFOR Press Release]

With support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the Philippines also moved towards promoting the trade of legally sourced timber and wood products. Representatives from 16 organizations from the government, the private sector and civil society met in May 2017 to set out a roadmap of FLEGT activities in the country. The main roadmap priorities for 2017 include addressing the national log supply deficit and the lack of assurance or control systems, and building the capacity of exporters to demonstrate the legal origin and traceability of their products. [FAO Press Release]

In Ghana, the FAO/EU FLEGT Programme supported a non-profit association, Sustainable Forest Management Partnership-Ghana, to increase awareness among farmers of their right to negotiate compensation when logging damages crops on their land. The project successfully fostered understanding among farmers and local communities of their entitlements, and also helped loggers better grasp their own responsibilities under the law. The project contributed to the SDGs by improving local livelihoods and strengthening forest governance by increasing transparency. [FAO Press Release]

Two new projects initiated by FAO and the EU aim to support legal timber trade in Lao PDR through strengthening the roles of civil society and the private sector. The first project, to be implemented by the Participatory Development Training Center and the Lao Biodiversity Association, will conduct consultations with forest-dependent communities. The second one, to be implemented by the Lao Wood Processing Industry Association, will deliver a comprehensive training programme for wood processing enterprises. Launched in July 2017, the projects aim to further the development of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Lao PDR and the EU. [FAO Press Release]

Work to tighten illegal timber trade controls is also underway under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), in particular its Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade. Work focuses, in particular, on customs and enforcement agency cooperation, and on tackling knowledge and technology gaps at border checkpoints to improve capacity in the region to thwart illegal timber and wood product shipments. APEC Ministers for Forestry are expected to address such issues at their meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 30 October to 1 November 2017. [APEC Press Release]

Celebrating 70 years of cooperation, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and FAO, hosted by the Czech Republic, also focused on forest certification schemes. More than 70 participants from 25 countries and organizations of the region met from 5-7 September 2017, in Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic to discuss aspects of forest certification schemes, including requirements for certification, the related bureaucratic burden and cost, and how to better facilitate certification for small and medium-sized forest-based enterprises. [UNECE Press Release]

Finally, a report funded by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and World Bank’s Program on Forests (PROFOR) shows how sustainably harvesting wood products can help meet growing demand while providing jobs, mitigating climate change and conserving primary forests, thus promoting a series of SDGs. Titled ‘Harnessing the Potential of Private Sector Engagement in Productive Forests for Green Growth,’ the report examines the economies of Ethiopia, Colombia, Mexico, Mozambique, Peru and Viet Nam to estimate the potential climate mitigation benefits from forest-based supply chains, as well as potential employment benefits, particularly in rural areas. [PROFOR Press Release] [Policy Brief]

Regional and Other Initiatives Promote Forest Restoration

Meeting from 26-27 September, in Niamey, Niger, partners of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) exchanged experiences and best practices aiming to achieve the SDGs as well as national environmental objectives. The meeting gathered representatives from 24 countries across Africa, who reaffirmed the continent’s commitment to restoration and shared practical ways to work with communities to initiate restoration on the ground. AFR100 is a Pan-African country-led initiative that aims to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land into restoration by 2030. To date, countries have already committed to more than 80 million hectares, making Africa a global leader in restoring forests, landscapes and livelihoods. Its approach goes beyond nature, focusing on people and highlighting that restoring landscapes is an opportunity to generate income, improve livelihoods, strengthen food security and build resilience in the face of climate change. [Global Landscapes Forum Press Release]

In Latin America, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank and partners announced an initiative to restore degraded areas in the Brazilian Amazon. Over the next six years, it calls for the restoration of almost 30,000 hectares, which corresponds to an estimated 73 million trees. [GEF Press Release]

National-Level Developments for Sustainable Forest Management

A series of meetings or other national-level developments have focused on improved sustainable forest management and achievement of SDG 15 (Life on Land). In Kazakhstan, a national workshop on criteria and indicators was held from 28-30 June 2017 in Astana. The workshop initiated the national process to develop criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management encouraging the participation of all relevant stakeholders. It is expected that, in the future, a set of criteria and indicators will be included in the national legislation, and a coordinating body will be established to strengthen the involvement of regions and businesses in the forest sector [UNECE Press Release].

Armenia’s national workshop on criteria and indicators was held from 13-15 September 2017, gathering around 30 national experts from government, academia and non-governmental organizations. A set of indicators is under development, with the aim to improve monitoring, assessing and reporting on the state of Armenia’s forests, strengthen national forest policy, and promote sustainable forest management. [UNECE Press Release]

A project agreed between the Government of Mozambique, the World Bank and FAO aims to stem deforestation and support sustainable forest management creating livelihood opportunities for rural communities. FAO will provide technical support to develop a 20-year national strategy for the forestry sector; institutional frameworks for forest concessions will be revised to ensure greater transparency, accountability, equity and sustainability of forest production; and model concessions that implement best practices will be established. A digital, geo-referenced Forest Information System will also be developed. [FAO Press Release] [World Bank Press Release]

The World Bank has also signed a GEF US$24.64 million grant with the Government of India and other Indian authorities and organizations, to improve forest quality, sustainable land management and benefits from non-timber forest produce for forest-dependent communities in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The project aims to support the country’s Green India Mission goal of protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s forest cover and responding to climate change. [World Bank Press Release]

Finally, in China, cooperation between the government and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) has been strengthened with a focus on sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources and South-South cooperation. [ITTO Press Release]

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