Making markets work for forest
Long-term commitment is crucialWWF and IKEA are fully aware that convincing governments, business and other relevant parties to support responsible forest management requires a long-term commitment. After all, it takes time to build up a network and become a reliable player. Therefore WWF and IKEA joined forces in 2002.
Anders Hildeman, IKEA Global Forestry Manager, explains: “Our partnership aims to make a difference in some of the world’s most important forests. We work closely together with different stakeholders. This is not always easy, but in our experience it is the best way to contribute long term to biodiversity and people’s livelihoods.”
Rod Taylor, Director of WWF International Forest Programme, adds: “Healthy forests generate economically valuable ecosystem services. Yet those who destroy or degrade forests often do not have to account to society for services lost. We need to work with progressive businesses to shape market signals and encourage policy reforms such that no one can profit from clearing forests or engaging in destructive logging practices and those who practice sound forest stewardship are duly rewarded.”
The forest projects of the partnership have had positive local impacts in many areas. Additionally, the work has catalysed some important improvements in the regulatory framework at the regional or national level in project countries. Good examples of impacts that go well beyond the local level include partnership projects in Russia, Vietnam and China.
Harmonizing forest legislation and FSC’s requirements in RussiaThere are a number of contradictions between FSC requirements and Russian forest legislation. As a result - ironically - some of the most responsible (FSC-certified) companies have been forced to pay fines for not following national laws. This situation was highly undesirable for all involved parties and led to discussions between government, companies and NGO’s. WWF played an important role in this process by coordinating the participation of dozens of NGOs in discussion about the Russian Forest Policy. IKEA, together with other businesses, also provided input to the modernization of the forest regulatory framework. The efforts paid off. “More legal opportunities must now be included in the Russian forest laws and regulations” says Alexey Grigoriev of the International Socio-ecological Union, “and this is a major achievement.” Also, more legal opportunities will be incorporated for protection of valuable forest landscapes. Not all problems are resolved and WWF and IKEA will continue their work to promote further harmonization and more responsible forest management.
Towards responsible forest management in VietnamIKEA sources a lot of rattan and acacia from Vietnam. To WWF the whole Greater Mekong region is very important as well, as it is home to an incredible number of species, many not found anywhere else on the planet. Land conversion and overharvesting of rattan however threaten biodiversity, local livelihoods and sustained yields of these commodities.
To promote responsible forest management in the Greater Mekong region, the partnership has been working with national and regional governments. Ho Van Ngum, Vice Chairman of A Luoi DPC in the Thua Thien Hue province in Vietnam is happy with the progress that has been made: “Different government project and programs contribute funds to a rattan enrichment pilot project and we have asked communes and villages to encourage every household to participate to increase their income.” The model has attracted interest from elsewhere, and the Quang Nam province has committed financial support to replicate the project in two of its districts (Dong Giang and Tay Giang).
At the national level, the partnership is assisting the Vietnamese government to include responsible forest management in the long term forest planning process. Various districts in Quang Tri province are now promoting FSC certification for smallholder acacia plantations. Another effort that has a major impact is a forest assessment that was carried out in Quang Nam and Quang Tri provinces. Priority restoration sites that have high values in reconnecting the forest landscape were identified, and after that two provinces added these areas in their restoration strategies, as well as in the forest development plan.
China’s new procurement policyChina is one of the world’s main timber trading countries. Both, the domestic market and the export are huge; over 20% of IKEA’s products (including wood products) are manufactured here. China is a challenging country when it comes to certification, and it is therefore especially inspiring to see that the partnership project and partners are seeking more constructive and effective ways to work with the government to create better conditions for responsible forest management.
The partnership played an important role in achieving FSC-certification for close to 3 million hectares. Furthermore a number of policy improvements were adopted. The project introduced the High Conservation Value Forest concept to China, and this has since been incorporated into the National Forest Management Plan. Requirements on timber legality for veneer and paper products, and on sustainability for timber imports, were also included in China’s public procurement policy. The Ministry of Environmental Protection actively supported WWF’s proposals to this effect and became the monitoring body. FSC is specifically mentioned and is mandatory for products from some types of natural forests in China.
Taking the next stepsThe partnership has shown that while there may be no easy wins, big wins are certainly possible. Requirements include long-term commitment, exceptional people on the ground and open-minded partners in governments and business. Together a difference can be made.
Towards a better policy environment in China
WWF and IKEA
WWF and IKEA have been working together since 2002 on responsible forest management. The partnership is currently running projects in 12 countries, on forests and also to influence good water management and promote responsible cotton production.
The forest program has four objectives:
- Improved forest governance through better land use planning practices
- Improved enabling environment and quality of forest certification systems
- Strengthened market chain for credible and/or certified forest products
- Decreased supply chain footprint focusing on renewable, recycled and more from less
The project countries the partnership runs the forest program in are: Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Our partnership aims to make a difference in some of the world’s most important forests. We work closely together with different stakeholders. This is not always easy, but in our experience there is no better way to contribute to biodiversity and people’s livelihoods.
Towards responsible forest management in Vietnam
One notion gaining traction is that healthy ecosystems provide economically valuable services. So decision makers are starting to understand how ecosystems underpin our economies, and that’s a powerful argument for conserving forests. The challenge now is to muster political will to change policies so that no one can profit from clearing forests or engaging in destructive logging practices.