Promoting sustainable plantation forest management and legal and responsible timber trade in Viet Nam
The European Union (EU) has developed the FLEGT action plan (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Forest Products) in 2003, in which timber-producing countries [outside the EU] must prove the legal origin of timber and timber products. As the EU is one of the main import markets for Vietnamese timber, Viet Nam must comply with this regulation.
There is a need to build capacity in Vietnamese timber enterprises in classifying and identifying legal timber under the stringent requirements on the legality of timber from overseas markets. Although the Decree on Management of Endangered, Precious and Rare Forest Plants and Animals (No. 32/2006/ND-CP) and CITES have been issued, there are no specific guidelines on identifying the types of timber on the list of prohibited or trade restriction under this Decree. This causes many difficulties for the management of exported and imported timber.
Mr. Le Van Bach, Director of The Forest Production Management Department, Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, the head of the project implementation team, said: "The RAFT Project will promote sustainable forest management in Viet Nam. In addition, Viet Nam is at the final stage to sign the Voluntary Partnership Agreement on strengthening Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) with the EU, building capacity on legal timber and responsible trade are essential."
The project is divided into two main components focused on promoting sustainable plantation management based on international standards and strengthening the implementation of responsible and legal timber trade. Additionally, the public is currently not aware of the definition of sustainable and responsible timber products. Therefore, the project will implement activities to create basic awareness for responsible and sustainable timber for the Vietnamese people, manufacturers and businesses, to initially create a market for responsible timber products in Viet Nam. This approach will not only bring permanent benefits to the environment and society, but also help combat illegal trade of timber, improve the investment into protection of the natural environment in Viet Nam and enhance the reputation of the Vietnamese market.
Talking about specific goals of project, Dr. Le Thien Duc, Forest Programme Coordinator of WWF-Vietnam said: " The Viet Nam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set a target that to 2020 at least 500,000 hectares of forests have been certified, however, at present only 219,245 hectares have been certified. To contribute to this goal, the project aims to add at least 3,000 hectares of plantations under improved management and achieving forest certification. In addition, at least one significant policy on promoting sustainable forest management will be developed or modified, legal timber trade and transparency will be enhanced, and the domestic market for certified forest products will initially be created."
To achieve this ambition, the project will identify forest areas that have the potential for certification to provide opportunities for other projects or the government to develop further to become certified forests; building capacity for forest owners through developing a manual for plantation forest certification and sustainable forest management; and supporting activities on reviewing and modifying the State policy on promoting sustainable forest management. If these activities are implemented, it will bring social and environmental benefits for the people living near the forests, as well as forestry workers, the illegal harvesting of natural forests will be reduced and their high conservation value will be maintained in the long term.
"With extensive experience in research, analysis and synthesis of forestry policies, RECOFTC is committed to actively supporting the Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) and partners involved in review of applicable regulations and policies on promotion of sustainable forest management in order to detect the policy gaps, propose measures to fill in those gaps through dialogue with many stakeholders. Based on the above results, RECOFTC will make recommendations to help VNFOREST to develop or revise at least one important policy to promote sustainable forest management” said Mr. Luong Quang Hung - Representatives of the RECOFTC Viet Nam.
“This project joins the Vietnamese authorities and the INGO community efforts towards ensuring a more sustainable trade of timber and halting the illegal timber trade. This cooperation is important to establish sustained action for controlled export of Vietnamese timber. The timber trade is a large part of the international economy and Viet Nam’s role is critical to ensure that resources are sourced via legal and sustainable means.” Ms. Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC Vietnam Office.
The Responsible Asia Forestry & Trade partnership (RAFT) brings together the skills and knowledge of seven leading organizations to provide capacity-building and knowledge-sharing services in support of the trade in responsibly harvested and processed commodities from forested landscapes across the Asia Pacific region. The partnership assists governments, businesses and communities to achieve higher standards of practice in natural forest and plantation management and commodity trade.
RAFT is supported by the Australian and U.S. Governments, Norad and the Arcus Foundation, and is implemented by TNC, WWF, RECOFTC, TRAFFIC, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), TFT (The Forest Trust) and the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF). In addition to these core partners, RAFT works with governments, industry, CSOs, IGOs and educational institutions from across the globe.
RAFT works on the ground in Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam, as well as with regional markets and inter-governmental organizations to strengthen incentives for responsible forest governance and management.