China explores ways to support sustainable trade in forest products with West and Central Africa

06 June 2008 | News story

From April 25th to May 9th 2008, a Chinese delegation visited Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Gabon to explore potential collaboration and to learn more about forest sector reforms in these countries, including the European Union’s ongoing FLEGT1 efforts in Africa.

The study tour, organized by IUCN as part of an IUCN project core funded by DFID2 , was another positive sign from China of its growing engagement with international and regional initiatives that promote sustainable forest management . 3

China is now the world’s second largest timber consumer. As the country is playing an increasingly important role in the global forest products trade, it is also increasingly concerned about the sustainability of forests. Although African sourced timber makes up only a small proportion of China’s total imports, China is a very important market for some African countries. For example, around 60% of Gabon’s timber exports are destined for China. In addition, given potential reductions in timber supplies from Russia (China’s main supplier) due to the new Russian Forest Code, African supplies may make up a growing proportion of China’s timber supplies. As China is such an influential player in the forest sectors of several African countries, its participation in this two-week study tour was warmly welcomed by all stakeholders, including IUCN.

The Chinese delegation, which consisted of senior officials from China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA), the Forestry Planning & Survey Institute and the Ministry of Commerce, was accompanied by IUCN Forest Programme staff and an observer from WWF China. Together, they met with a wide range of stakeholders, including Forestry Government Ministers and other high level officials, representatives from the European Union and other international organizations, FLEGT working groups, civil society groups and Chinese and foreign business people working in the forest sector. Throughout the tour, they learned about development strategies in the region’s forest sectors and discussed the progress of forest law enforcement and governance reforms. For example, Ghana is currently negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU, which aims to ensure that only legal timber is exported to EU countries.

“The study tour was an excellent opportunity for us to learn about the forest sector in Africa,” said a participant from the State Forestry Administration. “There is good potential for cooperation between China and Africa.”

With the high level of interest shown by the Chinese delegation and relevant information they gained during the study tour, further cooperation opportunities between China and Africa will be developed. These may include developing a cooperation mechanism between China and African countries, creating sustainable forest management guidelines for Chinese timber operators in West and Central Africa and increasing international funding for African sustainable forest management projects. China will continue to participate in international efforts to promote sustainable forest management and combat illegal logging and its associated trade. It will also endeavour to ensure that China’s timber supplies, and the goods that Chinese companies produce from them, are both legally sourced and sustainable.

1 Find out more about IUCN’s work in relation to the EU FLEGT Action Plan, click here.

2 To find out more about the DFID funded project entitled “Building multistakeholder coalitions in Central and West Africa and China for the negotiation and implementation of nationally defined and innovative actions in support of FLEGT/VPAs”, click here.

3 Chinese government and NGO representatives have participated in other FLEG processes, including the 2001 EAP-FLEG Ministerial meeting in Bali, the 2005 ENA-FLEG meeting in St Petersburg, and the EU-China Conference on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (Beijing, 19-20 September 2007). Chinese President Hu Jintao also proposed to establish an Asian and Pacific Network on Rehabilitation and Sustainable Management of Forests at the 15th APEC meeting in 2007


For more information, please contact:

Guido BROEKHOVEN
IUCN Senior Forest Governance Officer
guido.broekhoven@iucn.org

IUCN China Liaison Office
Ms LI Jia, Forest Programme Officer
lijia@iucn.org.cn

Ghana, IUCN FLEG Project Office
Wale ADELEKE, Project Facilitator
adewale.adeleke@ IUCN.org

IUCN Regional Bureau for Central Africa (UICN-BRAC)
Adonis MILOL, Coordinator AVP-FLEGT
adonis.milol@iucn.org

DRC, UICN-BRAC
Mr JOEL KIYULU, Coordonnateur
Projet Renforcement des VCM
joel.kiyulu@iucn.org


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