Forests owned by members of the Chinese chapter of WWF's Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) went beyond 1,000,000 hectares for the very first time late last year.
Set up and managed by WWF, GFTN aims to eliminate illegal logging and improve the management of valuable and threatened forests. By facilitating trade links between companies committed to achieving and supporting responsible forestry, the GFTN creates market conditions that help conserve the world’s forests while providing economic and social benefits for the businesses and people that depend on them.
This latest news marks a significant step for GFTN-China in its widescale promotion of FSC certification. The FSC is an independent, not for profit, non-governmental organization that provides standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies and organizations interested in responsible forestry. WWF is one of the main supporters of FSC globally and has been working on FSC certification for about eight years in China.
In July 2008, 116,217 ha of forest from the Fujian Yong’an Forestry Group and in October 230,405 ha of forest from the Heilongjiang Muling Forestry Bureau got FSC certification. Both are GFTN-China participants.
The Yong’an Forest Group became the first enterprise with over 100,000 ha of FSC-certified forest in southern China. Yong’an’s certification ensures the raw material supplies to those timber processing enterprises who demand FSC-certified material.
As a priority region for forestry development, the collective forest area in south China faces many challenges due to the abundant forest species, complex forest features and diversified land tenure. “The complex situation there makes it difficult to carry out large-scale FSC forest certification,” said Dermot O’Gorman, WWF-China Country Representative. “But Yong’an’s corporate operation has effectively integrated forest resources of different ownership, which sets a good example for forest certification and sustainable forest management in the south.”
The State Forestry Administration selected Yong’an as one of its pilot units to develop their sustainable forest management plan in 2006. At the same time, WWF China and Tetra Pak jointly supported the company to identify High Conservation Value Forests (HCVFs) and provided technical training on forest certification. Yong’an later passed GFTN-China baseline appraisal and joined the network as the 20th member.
Muling Forest Bureau is in the south-east part of Heilongjiang Province. The total forest managed area is over 260,000 ha and the forest volume is 22 million cubic metres. Since it was founded Muling has produced 15.66 million cubic metres of commercial timber.
“Muling is not only located in a WWF priority area – the Amur/Heilong Eco-Region – but it is also in the major timber production and processing area of north-east China neighboring the Russian far-east,” said Mr. Jin Zhonghao, GFTN-China Manager.
“Therefore Muling’s getting FSC certification supports the global demand for FSC-certified oak and other raw materials produced in this area. Furthermore, Muling can promote its successful experience and certified raw material to the international market through the platform of GFTN.” With support from IKEA, WWF China provided technical training to Muling during its certification process.
Mr. Yuan Jilian, Director General of Muling, said: “FSC certification is the most acknowledged international forest certification scheme that promotes the well-managed forest practices with the impetus of market mechanism. It is also a platform to make the forestry enterprises more competitive in practising responsible forestry and attracting investment.”
Mr Su Ming, Deputy Director of International Cooperation, the State Forestry Administration of China, said: “Sustainable management is a long-term goal for China’s forestry development while forest certification is one of the most effective methods to ensure this goal.
“We’re delighted by the cooperation between domestic forestry companies and international conservation organizations to introduce such advance management concepts and approaches to China.”