Suifenhe (People’s Republic of China), February 26, 2014: an international workshop on promoting legal and sustainable timber trade between China and Russia has been held to discuss the implementation and strengthening of forestry legislation. The EU funded FLEG II (ENPI East) Program was presented during the event, alongside focal points of combating illegal logging and associated trades; improving cooperation between the countries; and the organisation of special forestry training for Chinese companies.
Andrew Mitchell, World Bank, Senior Forestry Specialist and Team Leader for the FLEG II (ENPI East) Program, presented the activities and lessons from the first stage of the Program (2008-2012), implemented in seven countries, and explained the objectives of the second phase (2013-2016): to support the strengthening of forest governance through implementing relevant international processes, to enhance forest policy, legislation and institutions, and to develop, test and evaluate sustainable forest management models locally.
Mr Mitchell went on to make recommendations to improve forest governance and law enforcement with a focus on preventing forest fires and rehabilitating dying forest regions. He discussed forest fire suppression and prevention in select ecosystems, and enhanced forest management in select pilot regions. The role of FLEG II and these recommendations were complemented by the recommendations by other speakers at the conference, including the following:
Mr. Chen Shaozhi, of the Chinese Academy of Forestry, called for cross-sector coordination between the Forestry Departments, Environmental Protection Agencies, Commerce Departments and Customs. He addressed the need for guidance towards green consumption and corporate social responsibility; more standards for the monitoring and management of legal and illegal logging; and the mutual acceptance of standards and certifications among different countries. He also called for visibility for regional cooperation such as APEC and bilateral mechanisms, to demonstrate governmental efforts and to involve industry associations.
Mr. Alexander Mariev, Ministry of Natural Resource and Ecology, recommended that the Russian Roundwood Act, already a part of Russia/China forestry, must now be prepared for implementation. Chinese enterprises and industrial associations and government departments should carefully study the requirements and provisions of this Russian Forest Code; and China/Russian industrial organizations and government departments should organize specific training for companies.
Mr. Andrey Zakharenkov, Russia Far East FLEG II regional consultant, warned of the costs of third-party certification, which may reduce small and medium sized enterprises’ competitiveness in the marketplace. He recommended the supply chain from Russian producer to Chinese consumer should be simplified, with communication between government and enterprise associations strengthened, to lower costs and simplify access to timber.
Mr. Brian Milakovsky, WWF Russia, recommended providing the maximum possible access of the Unified Automatic Information System to importers of Russian wood products, so that they can use this information in the due care/due diligence process. He recommended that both governments and stakeholders take an active role in developing and implementing new Chinese guidelines for responsible wood purchasing, with training to be based in Russia.
Dr. Mikhail Tarasov, IKEA Trading Service (China) Co. Ltd, called for consistent enforcement of the EUTR, and uncompromising enforcement of the Russian Federal Roundwood Act. He also recommended making guidelines to Chinese companies compulsory, and called for the Governments of China and the Russian Federation to promote FSC certification.
The conference was attended by authorities from the forest departments of the Russian Federation, China, and United States, representatives of the World Bank, the European Forest Institute, the business community, and several non-governmental and international non-profit organizations.