Responsible forestry in Japan

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > East Asia > Japan

Forest of Hayami Ringyo in Kumano City, Japan's first FSC certified forest. Japan.
© WWF Japan

Summary

The unsustainable use and trade of wood products, including those from illegal logging, are the major cause of forest loss and degradation.

WWF believes it is possible to conserve and improve forest management by balancing commercial and non-commercial interests. This means building cooperation with businesses, governments, international organizations, local communities and consumers to achieve realistic market-based solutions.

This WWF project in Japan supports organizations wanting to develop responsible policies on the purchasing of wood products. More responsible purchasing will contribute to reducing the destruction of forests in Indonesia and the Russian Far East, from where Japan imports large volumes of wood products.

Background

Unsustainable use and trade of wood products, including those from illegal logging, are the cause of loss and degradation of forests. The issues have been discussed at the G8 summit and other important meetings. The industries concerned have made public statements on their initiatives to address such issues.

Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) assures purchasers that wood products have been tracked through a 'chain of custody'. This means that wood has come from forests which are well managed, taking into account all relevant environmental, social and economic principles and criteria.

Objectives

- Japanese key players develop improved wood product purchasing policies.

- Consumers are able to check the quality of forest management and the origin of forest products.

Solution

- Form effective strategies by identifying corporations involved in trade of forest products originating from ecologically significant regions, e.g. Russia Far East, Malaysia and Indonesia.

- Introduce measures to confirm legally sourced wood. As a supporting tool, WWF Japan has developed a Responsible purchasing checklist.

- Make recommendations on procurement policies.

- Support companies developing responsible purchasing policy through provision of information. These companies will progressively eliminate wood that is harvested illegally and/or unsustainably from their supply chains. This work will be done closely with the WWF Japan Forest and Trade Network (Sanshoukai) and with the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) secretariat and regional coordinators.

Achievement

By March 2005

- Mutai Hashimoto was employed to introduce forest issues, particularly the Teso Nilo forest in Sumatra, Indonesia.

- A forest officer responsible for the promotion of responsible purchasing of forestry products was employed using Overseas Development Assistance funds from the US and Dutch governments.

- Dialogue with Japanese buyers of a local pulp and paper company continued, with the aim of supporting High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) in Riau, Indonesia. Through this dialogue, one of the biggest buyers of the company's copy paper developed responsible purchasing policy with the help of WWF Japan. Eventually they ceased buying from the pulp and paper company.

- Another Japanese buyer of their copy paper also developed its responsible purchasing policy with the help of WWF Japan. Through this policy, the company agreed to buy only paper sourced from the plantation in Riau and stopped buying paper sourced from mixed tropical hardwood sources. This action has been verified by an independent auditor.

- A guideline for responsible purchasing of forestry products was produced. Seminars and workshops were held to introduce the guideline and discuss illegal logging and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

- Recommendations on the responsible procurement of paper products were publicized with 4 Japanese non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Questionnaires were sent out to concerned corporations.

- Staff visited WWF Russia to discuss a strategy to cope with illegal logging and destruction of HCVF.

By March 2006

- Dissemination of national and international information well established. It is important to further improve information collection and dissemination for direct negotiations with corporations, public education and fundraising.

- Close collaboration with field staff is important for the selection of target corporations. Sufficient information, including the names of corporations, was collected for the paper issue in Sumatra, Indonesia and logging in Far East Russia.

- A collaboration system was established with WWF Russia for illegal logging in the region. It includes policy making and support of field activities and donation appeal at the Japanese side.

- Seminars for corporations were held. Useful information was provided to over 20 corporations through the seminars. Among the participants, one corporation began drawing up a new procurement policy.

- Recommendations on the responsible procurement of timber were publicized with 4 Japanese NGOs. Questionnaires were sent out to concerned corporations.

By March 2007

- Procurement policy: WWF Japan continued to encourage corporations that use paper and timber to have a procurement policy incorporating care for forest ecosystem and social aspects.

- Review of the "Law Concerning the Promotion of Procurement of Eco-Friendly Goods and Services by the State and Others" (so-called Green Procurement Law, 2001): WWF Japan continued to influence the review and amendment process by expressing opinions at a public hearing and other meetings, e.g. the Conference to Cope with Illegal Logging, a government-organized meeting to cope with illegal logging including review of the government’s procurement guidelines.

- Troubles of a large Indonesian paper and pulp company: Despite WWF’s efforts to have their problems mitigated, little has improved. On the contrary the company tried to ignore the agreement with WWF. WWF revealed the names of the Japanese companies dealing with them. As a result, a few companies have stopped or reduced purchase of paper from them. WWF Japan is receiving enquiries over this issue from other companies.

- Eco Product Exhibition 2006: WWF Japan took part in the exhibition jointly with Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ Bank. Among the visitors to the stall at least 1,000 people responded to the questionnaires. They showed high interest in a fact that general consumers could contribute to global forest conservation through their own consumption behavior.

- Symposia on timber and paper procurement: WWF Japan organized 3 symposia for around 100 people each on the procurement of timber and paper from Indonesia, Russia and the United Kingdom. WWF Japan affirmed that corporations were keen to access concrete information such as "how to read logging permissions". However, it is costly and takes time and staff to confirm the origin of resources. WWF Japan was convinced it is effective to provide corporate stakeholders with support to establish a procurement policy.

By March 2008

- Checklist for responsible purchasing: The first draft was completed and pilot project was commenced under collaboration with Sanshokai members and their suppliers.

- Procurement policy: Six corporations adopted own procurement policy. WWF Japan will provide relevant information and exchange views with PANASONIC, a corporate supporter, in the next 7 years.

- Russia: WWF Japan, inviting WWF Russia’s forest officer twice, introduced to concerned parties in related business circles problems on the local forestry management and points to confirm before purchasing Russian forestry products.

- Sharing FSC information: FSC Working Group in Japan and WWF Japan co-organized a seminar to share FSC development overseas for about 100 FSC related parties in the Asia Pacific region.

By March 2009

- “A standard for purchase of wood products from Indonesia”, a supplementary guideline for those who purchase Indonesian wood products, was developed with dedicated support from GFTN Indonesia.

- WWF Japan released the “Responsible Purchasing Checklist” in Dec 2008 and afterwards held a series of seminars to introduce why it is needed and how to use it. Soon it was confirmed that some participants started to use the checklist.

- WWF Japan made a contract with Amita Corporation to establish a telephone guidance to instruct the way to use it.

- WWF Japan supported Panasonic to develop “Action Plan for Purchasing FSC certified Paper”. This activity is under Panasonic’s Corporate Supporter Contract with WWF. (Sep 2008)

- “Analysis of the FSC and PEFC Systems for Forest Certification using the FCAG 2008” was translated into Japanese. (Mar 2008). Final check is ongoing and will be available on WWF Japan’s web soon. This will help the Japanese audience to compare and contrast different forest certification schemes.

- WWF Japan appointed an organization to conduct a comparative research between FSC and SGEC (Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council). Both are active forest certification schemes in Japan.

- WWF Japan financially supports WWF Indonesia and other NGOs’ activities in Central Sumatra through JP0094, “Asia Forest Conservation Support”. These NGOs, famous as “Eyes on the Forest” prepare a lot of local information from the ground. WWF Japan introduces their information to Japanese audiences including companies that use forest products from the region.

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