In the recent Forest forum meeting we shared Complicit in Corruption - a recent report written by non-profit Earthsight, highlighting the widespread corruption in Ukraine's forests, and revealing how illegality permeates the timber supply chain in Ukraine from harvest to export.
Earthsight spent two years running field and undercover investigations in Ukraine. Approximately 70% of Ukraine's timber exports enter the EU and Earthsight's investigations indicate that 40% of this timber is being illegally harvest or traded. The report also claims that a significant volume of illegally harvested timber has received the FSC stamp - the former chief of one of the largest timber producing state-forest enterprises admitted to Earthsight he had found it easy to circumvent FSC checks.
A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
Earlier this year Vietnam initialled a timber trade agreement with the EU that will see Vietnam implement legislation to address imports of illegally harvested and traded timber in return for timber exports to the EU. According to a recent EIA investigation, Vietnam continues its role as a serial offender in the illegal timber trade, with large volumes of illegal timber still flowing across the Cambodian border unhindered. EIA have identified three main areas within Cambodia where substantial illegal logging operations continue. EIA tracked timber from these sites is being smuggled out of Cambodia and into Vietnam across informal crossings.
A RM1.2 billion takeover has saved about 1,500 workers’ jobs at ailing India-owned pulp and paper mill Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd, which was owned by India-based Ballarpur Industries Ltd previously. The takeover by Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd entails the transfer of all SFI assets, land titles and timber licenses and is made possible by strong support of the Sabah state government. The takeover is targeted to be completed by end of this year. Pelangi Prestasi committed to retain all SFI workforce and undertake workers’ back-wages, providing training and support as well as enhance access to basic amenities. For the next five years, it will focus on sustainable development of the forest concession area to maximise value through integrated processing and diversification of products.
The publishing initiative run by Carnstone, The Book Chain Project, held its second Asia Summit on 24th of April in Shenzhen, China. It was an opportunity for all the stakeholders in the paper and pulp industry to get together to discuss the latest developments in responsible fibre sourcing. Among the 70 delegates there were paper mills, printers, publishers, retailers, timber experts, and NGOs. The aim of the Summit was to discuss the latest developments on responsible forest sourcing and to share best practice.
The first session included speakers from Carnstone, Chronicle Books, and Donnelly, who shared their understanding on forest sourcing and provided the customer perspective. Next, WWF introduced their work on increasing demand of certified and recycled paper products. IKEA also presented their forest traceability system. Then, IPE and China Water Risk provided their insights on industrial pollution and the water-use pressures present in China.
The next session focused on three major paper mills; UPM, APP and Chenming Paper, sharing their response to the growing expectations and regulations around paper manufacturing. This panel was also joined by TFT who shared their insights on how mills can develop and implement sustainable sourcing systems and encourage engagement further up the supply chain.
The certification schemes, FSC and CFCC, explained how they are evolving to ensure transparency and traceability in global forest supply chains. And the event closed with practical sessions from the Carnstone team, who guided mills and printers to get the most from the online Book Chain Project database. Printers and mills had an opportunity to ask questions, share feedback, and offer ideas and improvements for the future.
Speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/event?event=5
IPE’s Companies environmental performance monitoring database: http://www.ipe.org.cn/IndustryRecord/Regulatory.aspx?keycode=343j9f9ri329293r3rixxx
China Water Risk website: http://chinawaterrisk.org/
An introduction to FSC certification scheme: https://v.qq.com/x/page/g0639hql3zp.html
The publishing initiative run by Carnstone, The Book Chain Project, held its second Asia Summit on 24th of April in Shenzhen, China. It was an opportunity for all the stakeholders in the paper and pulp industry to get together to discuss the latest developments in responsible fibre sourcing. Among the 70 delegates there were paper mills, printers, publishers, retailers, timber experts, and NGOs. The aim of the Summit was to discuss the latest developments on responsible forest sourcing and to share best practice. Further reading and speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/news
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.
Hardwood Dimensions, a timber importer in the U.K., violated the EU Timber Regulation by not properly verifying the legality of a shipment of Cameroonian ayous in January 2017. A judge ordered Hardwood Dimensions to pay 4,000 pounds ($5,576) plus court costs in the case. The case calls into question the effectiveness of Forest Stewardship Council certification, which Hardwood Dimensions has held since 2000.
Following the evaluation of the effectiveness and functioning of the EUTR during its first two years of application, it was noted that the EUTR covers a significant number of timber products, but not all are included in its scope. The evaluation concluded that the European Commission may consider amending the product scope, subject to an impact assessment of options. The European Commission is therefore undertaking an impact assessment to analyse possible changes to the EUTR product scope. As part of this impact assessment process and in line with the European Commission's Better Regulation Guidelines, an extensive consultation of stakeholders is being carried out. The main aim of this public consultation is to gather views and evidence on possible changes to the EUTR product scope.
Long known as a hotspot for rapid and largely illegal deforestation, Cambodia was singled out in a May 2017 EIA report. The report was the result of months of undercover investigations which found that from November 2016, more than 300,000 cubic metres (nearly 10.6 million cubic feet) of timber have been illegally felled in a wildlife sanctuary and two protected areas in Cambodia. Most of the timber was sold to Vietnam and generated $13 million in payments from Vietnamese timber traders. Environmental experts believe that a much-publicized crackdown on illegal logging launched in Cambodia in early 2016 had very little effect.
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.
EU and Vietnam complete negotiations on a deal to combat illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber
The EU and Vietnam conclude negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The agreement will help improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Vietnam to the EU, and other markets.
The yearlong ban on logging across all of Myanmar since April 2016 was lifted at the end of March 2017, and now the Myanmar government says it is on its way to bringing verifiably legal timber to the international market. Although a number of illegal activities were prevented by the government, illegal logging continued during the ban due to insufficiently collaboration. International buyers and local NGOs are concerned that Myanmar is not doing enough to keep its forests safe.
Zambian government has announced a ban on all “In Transit” timber within the country. 17 species of timber have been specified within the official Statutory Instrument, with the most notable inclusions pertaining to Pterocarpus chrysothrix (mukula)—a threatened species most commonly sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The decision addresses ongoing international concerns that the country is being exploited by smuggling networks to transport timber to lucrative markets overseas, with primary destinations including China and Vietnam.
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.
FSC in Brazil is now working with BVRio, the organization that set up the Responsible Timber Exchange in late 2016. BVRio pulls together data on the pricing, supply chain and certification of timber and wood products through its Responsible Timber Exchange. Since opening in November 2016, the exchange has fielded more than 400 offers for 5 million cubic meters of timber, 30% of which was FSC-certified. The partnership with FSC is aimed at bolstering the market for certified forest products.
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.
A new CDP study released that a substantive portion, 24% on average, of the revenue of 187 international companies depend upon commodities linked with deforestation, which are cattle products, palm oil, soy and timber products. Moreover, only about 40% of the studied companies have evaluated how the availability or quality of these commodities can impact their business growth strategy over the next five or more years. However, on the positive side, more and more companies become to recognize the benefits in scaling up their forest-protection efforts.
From 15 November special licences issued by Jakarta will certify the legality of timber products destined for the EU such as pulp, plywood and furniture. This assurance system, will be independently audited to ensure the timber is legally sourced and meets environmental standards. Once the agreement takes effect from 15 November, timber exports from Indonesia that do not carry this certification will be prohibited from trade within the EU.
Interpol has released a purple notice on 30 August about an illegal timber trading operation involving four companies in Brazil, which stems from an investigation by the Brazilian Federal Police that uncovered a technique employed by illegal timber traders in the country. The method in question involves obtaining fraudulent forest management plans that declare a higher density of a high-value timber species within a timber concession than actually exists on the ground, allowing criminals to harvest timber from unauthorized areas and report it as if it was legal. These false forest management plans are obtained through bribery or by the operators who forge them.