Advancing Vietnam’s sustainable timber trade

In a Responsible Asia Forestry & Trade Partnership” programme signed recently between the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), TRAFFIC and RECOFTC, Vietnam will be assisted with carrying out legal and responsible timber trade.

The project aims to achieve sustainable afforestation, forest management and improve officials’ capacity. It is funded by he Australian Government through The Nature Conservancy organisation (TNC) and will run through March next year.

Divdided into two components, the project will focus on promoting sustainable plantation management based on international standards, and strengthening implementation of responsible and legal timber trade.

It also seeks to create basic awareness among the public, manufacturers and businesses to create a responsible timber market in Vietnam.

With this approach, it will provide permanent benefits to the environment and society while combating illegal trade in timber. In addition, it will also help to boost investment in environmental protection as well as enhance the reputation of the Vietnamese market.

Addressing the goals of the project, Lê Thiện Đức, forest programme coordinator of WWF-Vietnam, said, “The Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set a target that by 2020 at least 500,000 hectares of forests should be certified, but only 219,245 ha have been certified so far.”

In order to achieve the target, the project aims to have 3,000ha of forests certified as sustainable.

In addition, at least one significant policy for promoting sustainable forest management will be developed or modified while legal timber trade and transparency will be enhanced. A domestic market for certified forest products will also be created to address the issue.

Potential forest areas will be identified for certification by other programmes or will be certified by the government while a manual on forest certification and sustainable forest management will be created.  In addition, there’ll be a review and modification to the policies to promote sustainable forest management.

These activities are expected to bring social and environmental benefits to the people living near forests and forestry workers by reducing illegal logging and conserving the forests.

The FLEGT action plan (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Forest Products) developed by the EU in 2003, requires timber-producing countries to prove the legal origin of their timber and timber products. As the EU is one of the main import markets for Vietnamese wood products, Vietnam would need to comply with this. 

Although there is CITES and the Decree on Management of Endangered, Precious and Rare Forest Plants and Animals, there is no definitive list of timber species that cannot be traded. Hence, the difficulties in managing timber trade and the need to build a structure among Vietnamese wood enterprises to classify and identify legal timber.

The Responsible Asia Forestry & Trade partnership brings together the skills and knowledge of seven leading nature conservation organisations.

The partnership assists governments, businesses and communities to achieve higher standards in natural forest and plantation management and commodity trade.

Source: Vietnam News