SME’s often buy wood that has been produced unsustainably, possibly illegally, and so propagate the demand for unsustainable and illegal wood. SME wood processors in the target countries may be aware of the need to manage resources more responsibly, but there is an almost universal lack of capacity to implement actions to address the problem. To exacerbate this, unsustainable development and related forest degradation in Asia result in increased flooding, mudslides, and wildfires as a result of forest loss.
Continued degradation to the natural resource base on which the poor rely will further marginalise vulnerable groups. In order to ensure sustained economic growth, pressures on finite natural resources such as forests must be reduced.
The SWITCH-Asia project “Sustainable Wood Processing and Trade” targets at least 600 SMEs in the wood processing sectors of China, India and Vietnam with the aim that they apply sustainable production techniques and provide certified sustainable forest products to national and international markets. This project focuses on SME wood processors to build their capacity for responsible sourcing and production of forest products. It will link these SMEs with buyers and forest managers that are parts of the Global Forest and Trade Network across 34 countries.
Project Duration: 01/2009 - 01/2013
63 Indian SME timber producers attended a wood trade legality and markets workshop in Kerala as part of the SWITCH-Asia funded sustainable timber program in October. The workshop was designed to inform producers about the US Lacey act (aimed at preventing illegal timber from entering the US market) and the upcoming EU Timber Regulations which will require all timber exported to the European market to come from legal sources by 2013. A side event to promote afforestation was also held and Mr M Raghavan, a local Member of Parliament, delivered a keynote speech to the SMEs and the eight media representatives present. The Indian timber industry is experiencing solid growth, and producers are keen to tap into export markets. There is a steady demand for sustainable and certified timber products from Europe, and Indian producers can benefit not only from stronger margins but also through assuring their longer term supply chains.
11 October 2011
SCP was firmly on the agenda for a number of trainings conducted by WWF Vietnam and VIFORES, the Vietnamese forestry trade association, over the past three months. The overall aim of the trainings was to reach out to small scale producers to involve them in the debate on sustainable timber consumption through a series of workshops. The workshops covered marketing, quality control, legal timber trading, cross-border wood trading and sustainable supply chains. Over 100 businesses attended the training events as well as local government representatives and journalists. Vietnam is playing an increasingly important role in regional timber use and much of the timber used is from unsustainable sources. Instilling sustainable practices in smaller businesses means that the sustainability is an integral part of the business model – resulting in a reduced environmental impact as the business grows. VIFORES also held a press conference to address the cross-border traffic in illegal timber. This event was widely reported in the Vietnamese timber trade press, serving to raise the issues of supply chain sustainability and legality amongst the Vietnamese timber SME community.
As part of the SWITCH Asia project GFTN (Global Forest and Trade Network) China organized the “China Green Wood Forum - GFTN-China Annual Meeting” on Oct. 26-28 in Kunshan with support from GFTN-UK. Four new wood processing SME participants were recruited to the GFTN during this meeting as part of project activities. The meeting included presentations from experts on green labelling, FSC, supply chain management, legality verification as well as an opportunity to bring company participants (& applicants) from GFTN China and GFTN UK and their suppliers together to have a roundtable and training workshop to deepen understanding of each other’s expectation in practicing sustainable forest management and responsible trade of forest products.
Baseline assessments for ten wood processing SMEs have now been completed as part of the process to join GFTN India under the project. An event announcing the participation of these SMEs to the project and GFTN India will be held on 25th November. This will be attended by an EU Delegation to India representative as well as members of the press. A consultative meeting on Responsible Wood Sourcing and Forest Certification was held on 21st October 2010 in Thiruvananthapuram targeted at SME wood processors, manufactures and traders in the southern districts of Kerala.
Two more wood processing SMEs are applying for GFTN Vietnam membership as part of project activities. There have also been initial discussions with a state owned corporation which has 17 smaller SME members (1 paper mill plus 16 plantation companies with sawmills) and they are interested to encourage their members to join GFTN as part of the project. Market links have been established between a GFTN Vietnam SME member and FSC certified smallholder plantation and paper companies. As part of the project media campaign our trade association partner VIFORES are continuing to provide articles on sustainable wood processing and marketing for VietWood magazine.
From 9 to 13 February 2009, an inception workshop was held in Beijing to officially kick-off the project. The workshop gathered representatives from WWF Vietnam, WWF India, WWF UK, WWF China and Vietnam Timber and Timber Product Association. Participants discussed tools and techniques for team building, staff capacity building as well as an effective implementation among WWF, partners, consultants and the donor.