The Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) is a collaborative effort to accelerate progress and improve accountability for responsible supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry. Recently, the initiative has released the first draft of their framework for improving accountability for responsible supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry, including as set of the core principles & definitions, a practical operational guidance. The initiative is now preparing to expand on the principles in an operational manual, and they are inviting input and feedback from as many companies, government entities, non-profits, and other stakeholders as possible.
Resolute Forest Products Lawsuits (re-alleged racketeering and defamation by environmental organisations, USA)
Canadian logging company Resolute Forest Products has filed two lawsuits against various Greenpeace entities, Stand. Earth (formerly known as "ForestEthics"), and some of these organisations' staff members in the United States and Canada. These lawsuits were brought in relation to the organisations' criticism of the environmental impact of Resolute Forest's logging practices in the Canadian boreal region and to their campaigns encouraging customers to hold Resolute to account for its unsustainable forestry practices. The environmental organisations being sued assert that the lawsuits are meritless and constitute "strategic lawsuits against public participation" ("SLAPP") meant to silence their criticisms. Following the filing of Resolute's lawsuits, Greenpeace launched a campaign aiming to stop the use of SLAPPs to silence free speech. As part of this campaign, Greenpeace has received support from over 100 authors in several countries.
The Draft National Forest Policy 2018 is now open for public comments, and will replace the older 1988 policy once it comes into force. Critics are apprehensive about how the draft policy deals with community participation and industrial forestry. The current draft is bereft of knowledge-driven solutions, some experts say.
A meeting between forestry representatives from Cameroon, Congo and China took place earlier this year, aimed at strengthening legality within the forestry sector and the international trade in timber. Participants agreed on the development of a forest control and verification system for timber from Cameroon and Congo heading to China; the need for capacity building based on a good knowledge of forest resources and monitoring tools; and the need to maintain ongoing co-operation and dialogue among stakeholders in Africa and China for more effective forest governance throughout the supply chain.
China has completely banned the felling of natural forests for commercial purposes, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA). China had previously made a three-step plan to phase out deforestation, starting with the worst deforested areas and setting the end of 2017 as the deadline for a complete national halt on deforestation. China will step up efforts to plan and establish 20 national forest reserves in seven key areas, in hopes of reducing the country's dependence on timber imports to less than 30 percent by 2030.
WWF-Vietnam and the Center for People and Forests have launched a joint project under the “Responsible Asia Forestry & Trade” (RAFT) Partnership on sustainable forest management, focusing on classifying and identifying timber for international trade. Viet Nam is also at the final stage of signing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU.
Vietnam has largely succeeded in reforestation within its border. Started in the 1980s, accompanying the transition to a market-driven economy, forestry management moved to a multi-sector approach with NGOs, businesses, local communities and management boards involved from originally government control. In 2008, Vietnam become a REDD pilot country, and both Forest Trends and FAO have recorded the increase in forest cover in Vietnam. However, challenge still exits. The demand for wood products in Vietnam is high, and now the country imports much from Cambodia, where illegal and unsustainable loggings happen frequently.
According to the new report released by The international policy organization (Interpol), corruption in the forestry sector globally costs about $29 billion annually, with bribery as the most common form. The study finds that the forestry sector is particularly vulnerable to corruption as many forests since many forests are located in placed where governance and regulatory regimes are poor. Also, the point when corruption occurs most frequently is at the harvest, identified in another study Interpol collaborated with TREES project. Recommendations including policy and legislative reforms, capacity building, financial investigations, and Interpol anti-corruption investigators were provided to reduce the risk of corruption in forestry operations.
Two organizations, Woodland Trust and Confer, warn that England now is cutting down more trees than planting in the possibly 40 years. They pointed out that England is already one of Europe’s least wooded countries, and the government is missing its target to plant 11 million trees in the UK in the lifetime of this parliament. The UK government responded that the woodland cover was at its highest level since the 14th century, and planting rates vary from year to year. The Woodland Trust, Confor and large commercial forestry groups call on the government to commit to planting 7,000 hectares of woodland every year until 2020 and then to increase planting to 10,000 hectares a year.
Gender inequality is still widespread in the forestry industry and existing roles for women are poorly supported by current forestry policy. The current issues for gender equality are the widespread misconceptions that forestry work is too physical or the environment is too dangerous for women to work in, and also a significant lack of gender-balanced and women-friendly policies in developing countries. Learning from developed countries where affirmative action in offering education, training, and childcare to working women is a suggested way to bring gender equality to forestry. Recently, FSC released a Guidance Document on Promoting Gender Equality in National Forest Stewardship Standards.
A new report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s State of the World’s Forests suggests that improving co-operation between nations’ farming and forestry sectors will help to reduce deforestation and improve food security. The report shows that in more than 20 countries the increasing forest cover and food security can happen at the same time, and among those countries the common features are secure land tenure and effective land-use planning. As thus, the coordinated policies between forestry and agriculture are essential, which are lack in many countries actually.
Fern have produced a report outlining China’s efforts in combatting the trade of illegally sourced timber. The report covers the forest policies and timber trade trends in China as well as the engagement from national and international bodies. Strategies for China-EU efforts in tackling illegal logging and forest governance failure and other drivers of deforestation are also shared. One recommendation includes a robust enforcement of the EUTR in imports from China.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s plan to ban new palm oil permits is being supported by Indonesia’s forestry ministry. The ban, announced in April, has spared 851,000 hectares of land from conversion with 61 proposals from palm oil companies being rejected. The rapid expansion of palm oil plays a key part in deforestation across the country and was also a prime cause of the fire and haze crisis in 2015.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s comments on the destruction of the rainforests in Indonesia are being criticised by Indonesia’s environment and forestry minister, Siti Nurbaya. Following his visit last month to the Mount Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra, DiCaprio posted on social media that ‘palm oil expansion is destroying this unique place’. Nurbaya shared that it was rather unfortunate that DiCaprio didn’t obtain comprehensive information about deforestations issues in Indonesia and that the current government are working hard to protect the environment.
Indonesia’s anti-graft commission said government agencies have agreed on a plan to combat corruption in the forestry industry that costs the state billions of dollars in lost revenue and is behind fires that pollute Southeast Asia. The plan leans heavily on technology to build an accurate picture of where illegal deforestation and conversion of peatland into farmland is occurring, using Landsat satellites, drones and LIDAR pulsed laser-based mapping.
Greenpeace have released a briefing update document on the Montagnes Blanches Endangered Forest. Nearly 50% of the intact forest landscapes have been lost or degraded due to logging, road building, and other industrial development between 2000 -2013. The briefing document covers the recent and current forestry operations in the intact forest landscape and describes the future steps for long-term solutions in the area as well as the role customers should play in forest products.
Regarding the choking haze in Indonesia, 23 companies have been punished by Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, while over 33 plantation companies are being investigated. The Singaporean government said it plans to take action against firms linked to haze-causing fires.
A new report by the Rainforest Action Network provides further evidence of the benefits of greater local land rights in conserving tropical forests. The research follows a separate report published in 2014 by the World Resources Institute, an international environmental NGO. That study showed deforestation rates were 11 times lower in zones licensed to local communities than in other lands.
The Mongabay article reports that Indonesia targeted 2.5 million hectares of land for community-based forest management between 2009 and 2014 but only 13% of this had actually been allocated for community-based forest management by the end of 2013. The article points to criticisms by some that many licenses vulnerable to abuse with one commentator claiming that some loosely organized communities will simply sell their land to the highest bidder – often industrial companies.
Over a dozen African countries to tackle Climate change and boost development by restoring 100m hectares of forest across the continent over the next 15 years. The initiative known as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) was launched during COP21. It will be underpinned by a $1bn investment from the World Bank in 14 African countries over the next 15 years and by $600m of private sector investment over the same period.
The initiative will also be supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) and the World Resources Institute.
In a move to bolster links with the Malaysian forestry sector last week FSC held a media conference in Kuala Lumpur to bring together its Malaysian stakeholders, discuss the specific issues in the country’s forests, and how parties can work together to tackle these challenges. FSC opened a new office in Kuala Lumpur in November 2014 and seeks to grow its existing certificate holders from 12 forests and 173 Chain of Custodies.