Community Forestry in China
Fueled by incredible economic growth, China has become one of the world's largest consumers of wood and wood products. It's the world's largest furniture exporter and plywood producer and the largest market for hardwood lumber. And the demand from other countries for low-cost wood products manufactured in China only adds to the enormous pressures on forests and wildlife, both in China and in those countries from where it sources its raw wood materials. In 2001, the Rainforest Alliance awarded a Chinese forest the country's first Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Forest Management certificate, but we knew that we needed to expand our efforts there if we were to have a measurable impact.
In 2005, with funding support from the IKEA Foundation, our Training, Extension, Enterprises and Sourcing (TREES) program began a multi-year training initiative in China, with the objective of building broad awareness of FSC certification and responsible forestry. Now, after training more than 10,000 people through an innovative combination of live events, online learning and train-the-trainer outreach initiatives, the country can boast more than 3.36 million acres (1.36 million hectares) of FSC-certified forestland, 20 FSC-certified forest management enterprises and 928 Chain-of-Custody certificates.
Having already established a strong network of NGOs, academic institutions, government representatives and industry leaders as part of the certification process, the Rainforest Alliance recognized the importance of convening this broad group of stakeholders to try to jumpstart a more responsible forest-products market in China. In 2008, we organized our first annual International Conference on Sustainable Forests and Markets, held in Beijing. With funding from China's State Forestry Administration, USAID, the Nature Conservancy's Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade program, and others, we've now held two major conferences to explore policy issues and responsible sourcing and supply-chain practices. Two more conferences are in the works, slated for 2010 and 2011, with others to come in the future.
International Conferences on Sustainable Forests and MarketsThe next conference is scheduled for June, 2011.
View a brief video about last year's conference.
Our central objectives in China are to:
- Work with forest managers to help them address the challenges they face on the path to responsible management;
- Help forest-product manufacturers identify risk in their supply chains, support those suppliers that want to move toward more responsible practices and/or help manufacturers find alternative supplies of sustainable materials; and
- Address the country's overwhelming need for sustainable forest managers by establishing a working group of top academic leaders, both from China and elsewhere, to draft recommendations for an internationally recognized curriculum on sustainable forest management.
The scope of our work has also grown to include regions outside of the country that serve as key suppliers to China, primarily Russia's Siberia region, where in 2008 we began a complementary multi-year initiative to build broad awareness of FSC certification and responsible forestry and to support the certification of China's key wood suppliers that are based there.
For more information, please contact your regional TREES representative.