Mist clears on China in African forests

Mists of uncertainty and misunderstanding have shrouded China's role in African forests in recent years. These are beginning to clear and, thanks to initiatives such as the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, the prospects for true China-Africa forest partnerships look more promising than ever.

Chinese employees operate the cutting machines at Green Timber, a Chinese-owned timber concession by Mike Goldwater

China buys more than 75 per cent of Africa's timber exports and is now the top importer of timber from several African nations. Chinese investments in agribusiness, mining and infrastructure in Africa's forest and woodland areas are growing too. 

This current growth in Chinese investments in African land use can bring great opportunities for policymakers to ensure that benefits reach local communities and boost the sustainability of African forestry. 

Yet there is widespread misunderstanding about the nature of these investments.  By producing better evidence on the nature of these engagements, linking actors from both sides, and identifying policy and research gaps, IIED and its partners are trying to improve decision-making on these issues. 

This long read explores the progress made by the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform in supporting Chinese investment and trade that both stimulate thriving local economies and conserve forests in Africa. It outlines key actions for: 

  • Chinese government to invest in policy, guidance, financial frameworks and organisation;
  • Chinese companies to open up to community engagement and accountability; and
  • African governments and their supporters to foster better policy and sustainable processing.

Read the full article on the IIED website.