RAFT Story of Change - Responsible Asia Forestry & Trade ... ... RAFT Story of Change Responsible Asia

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  • RAFT Story of Change: On the Trail of Responsible Timber

    ow can you know if your dining room table is legal and truly ‘green’? One major furniture retailer found the answer by going to China to meet its suppliers and tracing the factories’ timber supplies all the way back to the forest. This is one example emerging from the era of responsibility in forestry and timber trade.

    For years, the global timber supply chain has too often been a liability for forests, making it easy for importers and manufacturers to overlook their enormous and often very destructive footprint in faraway tropical forests. Focused on short-term profits, companies lacked motivation to ask hard questions about the source of wood used in furniture and flooring, and the links in the chain along which their products traveled. Today it is different. Consumer demand for socially and ecologically responsible timber products and policies in Washington and Brussels are creating changes in forests from West Kalimantan to Luang Prabang.

    An international supply chain requires an equally transnational response from conservationists, and the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) program offers such a response. Active across eight countries in the region – from communities in Lao PDR to factories in China – RAFT has worked to bring transparency to the global timber supply chain, along with legal and sustainable management to the forests of Asia and the Pacific. This includes: strengthening laws to prohibit imports of illegal timber; helping companies and governments to design and use chain of custody systems to track forest-product exports all the way back to the forest; and fostering business-to-business learning about why it is important to clean up a timber supply chain and how to actually do it.

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    Sawn wood labeled to be tracked and verified as legal at CV. Citra Jepara factory, Central Java, Indonesia. © Aji Wihardandi/TNC.

  • � RAFT Story of Change

    Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade

    Before you can sleep soundly in a legally and sustainably produced bed, you have to ask a lot of questions; from the forest, to a port piled high with timber, to an overseas factory, and so on, until a showroom or retailer on the other side of the world. There are many places along the timber supply chain where things can go wrong. Or, where they can go decidedly right.

    Today, not asking those questions can get a company into a lot of trouble. Furniture and flooring retailers face new incentives to both clean and ‘green’ their timber supply chains. New laws in consumer markets, such as the 2008 Amendments to the Lacey Act in the United States (US) and the European Union’s (EU) Timber Regulation, hold importers accountable for the pedigree of the raw materials that go into the products they sell. In the US, companies that cannot demonstrate the source and the legality of the wood they import can be fined US $500,000, face jail time of up to five years and have their shipment seized. At the same time, as global attention turns to the role of forests in combating climate change, major institutions like

    the World Bank are increasingly looking to commodity supply chains as a way to influence reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from agriculture and forestry practices.

    RAFT targets the most critical links along the timber supply chain to further improved forest management on the ground and the accompanying reductions in carbon emissions. It does this using a three-pronged approach:

    First, partnerships. It is important to avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’. RAFT brings together some of the leading organizations on supply chain management to build on existing relationships and work portfolios.

    Second, supply chains. RAFT recognizes the need to work with regulators, retail buyers, manufacturers and forest managers to change behavior up and down the timber products supply chain.

    And third, RAFT connects policy and practice. RAFT helps ground policy in practical realities, while working with factory and forest managers to translate good policy into good practice.

    Logs labeled with yellow to show that they meet the responsible sourcing criteria of RAFT-partner The Forest Trust (TFT) at CV. Citra Jepara factory, Central Java, Indonesia. © Aji Wihardandi/TNC.

  • �On the Trail of Responsible Timber

    Beyond information about new legislation in consumer markets the guide includes all relevant laws in producer and processor countries that suppliers must demonstrate their compliance with in order to keep selling their products to the US and the EU. “Lacey says you can’t violate laws in producing and processing countries, but it doesn’t say what those laws are,” explains TRAFFIC’s Chen Hin Keong. “For the first time, the guide explains to major producing and processing countries what in our opinion Lacey should mean for them.”

    Increased awareness among Chinese companies of what export markets require is also being felt in China’s fast-growing domestic market for wood products. For example, B&Q China – part of Kingfisher Group, the world’s third largest home improvement retailer – attended one of RAFT’s legality trainings in Shanghai. Kingfisher has since strengthened the implementation of its responsible timber policy in China by announcing its participation in GFTN-China’s program to work towards the ultimate goal of sourcing 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber. With hundreds of buyers abroad and at home, B&Q China is one example of how RAFT’s efforts are having an impact beyond companies sending their products overseas, and reaching one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world.

    Another example of how the trainings are sending ripples throughout the industry are wood product companies East Win and Susfor-Oasis Wood. RAFT’s legality training in Shenzhen introduced management to the new requirements of international markets, ultimately leading both companies to participate in GFTN-China and adopt FSC certification as company policy – both for the forests they source from as far away as Brazil and Bolivia, to their saw mills and factories in China. In 2011, Susfor-Oasis Wood held its own event for buyers and other partners in China to raise awareness of FSC certification and the work they are doing to source responsibly.

    In 2011, legality trainings were held in Thailand, Lao PDR and again in China, where the demand is high. Together the events attracted nearly 1000 industry representatives. “The large number of people we were able to train and inform about the Lacey Act and the resources we were able to produce have left a legacy of information where there was once a vacuum,” says GFTN Head George White. “Now we see companies taking that information and making decisions that are leading them down the path to responsible trade.”

    Before the training in Shenzhen, we didn’t know anything about GFTN-China or FSC certification. Now, we are open to working with NGOs, and see FSC as an important tool to promote sustainable forest management in all of our operations.

    Terry Tang, Eastwin and Susfor-Oasis Wood.

    A lot has changed since 2001, when governments from major wood producing and consuming countries recognized a shared responsibility to deal with the problem of illegal logging in the forests of Southeast Asia. One important change was the 2008 Amendments to the US Lacey Act, the country’s oldest wildlife protection law, to include plant products such as wood, and anything made from it. This was the first law of its kind, designed to support trading partners in their efforts to combat illegal logging. Since then the EU, Switzerland, and more recently Australia, have also taken big legislative steps to ensure that consumer markets are not creating demand for illegal wood. With these new laws, suppliers that are unable to demonstrate the legality of the products they export will find it much harder to stay in business.

    The introduction of these laws in consumer markets created an opportunity for RAFT partners to help translate legislation in buyer markets into much needed action in Asia’s flooring and furniture factories and, ultimately, in forests. In 2010, RAFT Partners WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) and TRAFFIC developed “Exporting in a Shifting Legal Landscape”, a guide to help companies assess their own performance in meeting the needs of their US and EU buyers. The guide was used in a series of legality trainings held in four countries – China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The training combined TRAFFIC’s research and training abilities and GFTN’s extensive industry networks. Experts from the US Government and the European Forest Institute’s EU FLEGT Asia Programme introduced more than 950 wood manufacturers to the requirements of the new legislation in both markets.

    Navigating a Shifting Legal Landscape

    Terry Tang of Eastwin and Susfor-Oasis Wood and George Zhao of B&Q China announce their participation in GFTN- China together with GFTN-China Head Jin Zhonghao, Shanghai, China. © IWCS.

  • � RAFT Story of Change

    Checking the Boxes of Responsible Sourcing

    Timber Traceability Checklist

    Once a company has developed a responsible sourcing policy and trained their staff to carry it forward, traceability must be established by placing sources in one of the following six ‘environmental status’ categories: recycled; known source; known licen