China’s role in Africa’s timber trade is an important one. Although imports from Africa make up a small proportion of China’s total timber imports, China is the main destination of up to 90% of timber for some producer countries on the continent.
As part of its work on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG), IUCN is building multistakeholder coalitions linking China and West and Central Africa in support of improved forest governance. This project will work at the local and national levels in six African producer countries: Ghana, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Gabon.
Through this project, China as a key consumer of Central and West African forest products will be engaged in discussions about forest governance in Africa. A first step in working with stakeholders on this issue was a meeting organised by the IUCN China Office on 10 January in Beijing. The meeting brought together representatives of NGOs, research institutes and the private sector concerned with the role of China in promoting sustainable forest management in Africa. Participants discussed the flows and implications of China’s growing trade in African timber, as well as a range of strategies for working with the government, research institutes, NGOs and the private sector to encourage sustainable forestry and trade practices. Ideas included:
- Conducting research on the species, particularly endangered species, involved in the timber trade.
- Increase consumer awareness and publicise information on responsible purchasing and sustainable timber products.
- Setting up information sources for companies on legally sourced timber, as well as relevant policies and regulations in producer countries.
- Working with customs authorities to curb illegal logging and associated trade.
It is hoped that such meetings will become a regular opportunity for organizations working in this field to exchange information and coordinate their efforts to promote sustainable forestry practices among Chinese operators in Africa.
For more information on this meeting and IUCN China’s work on FLEGT, please contact Charlotte Hicks at email@example.com or +86-10-85322699 ext 103.