In 2012, when I first started researching China’s illegal timber imports, related news or information in Chinese was scarce. Six years on, however, a study co-authored by a Chinese government research institution offers a flicker of hope. China may be heading in the right direction and joining a growing global community who prohibit illegal timber imports by law.
Central African Republic and the EU have released a joint report on progress in implementing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement in 2016. The report describes progress made with the timber legality assurance system, legislative reform, domestic market, institutional improvements, communication, transparency and monitoring of the agreement.
China and the European Union (EU) are strengthening their efforts to address illegal logging and promote legal timber trade through their Bilateral Coordination Mechanism (BCM) on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance. The 9th meeting of the BCM took place in Beijing, China, on 7 March 2018.
An article published in Front Page Africa describes the progress made by Liberia towards good forest governance since the end of the 14-year civil war, highlighting the ‘gradual rise’ of women’s participation in the forest sector. The writer outlines the benefits of greater participation of women in decision-making processes related to forests.
On 8 March 2018, the Independent Market Monitoring (IMM) organised the first Trade Consultation in London, United Kingdom (UK). The Consultation aimed to inform participants about the latest Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) developments, and to provide an opportunity for them to voice opinions about FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) processes.
In a commentary published by Mongabay, ecologist Dan Nepstad underlines that without support to building strong institutions, ‘it may not be possible to further curb tropical deforestation.’ He writes: ‘governments control the biggest levers for influencing the decision that is made every year by millions of people who live in or work in tropical forests–to cut trees or not.’
British timber operator Hardwood Dimensions (Holdings) Ltd has been fined for breaching regulations prohibiting the import and sale of illegally harvested timber. Hardwood Dimensions failed to check the legality of a batch of timber from Cameroon when placing it on the market, breaching regulations requiring businesses trading in timber and timber products in the UK to ensure that their products originate from legal sources.
A summary report of the Feasibility Analysis of the Incorporation of Timber Legality Requirements into Chinese Laws or Regulations to Promote Trade in Legal Forest Products was published. The analysis was undertaken jointly by the EU (DG Environment, European Commission) and China (State Forestry administration and Chinese Academy of Forestry), in the context of the EU – China Bilateral Coordination Mechanism (BCM) on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG).
The reports of two joint observation missions carried out in the Central African Republic in August and December 2017 have been published. These missions included representatives from the Ministry of water, forests, hunting and fishing, as well as from the Mandated Independent Observation - Centre for Environmental and Sustainable Development Information.