WWF forest programme welcomes review; initiates key changes

Posted on May, 21 2012

WWF is welcoming an in-depth evaluation of its Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) and has announced plans to initiate several changes aimed at making the programme stronger and more effective.
WWF is welcoming an in-depth evaluation of its Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) and has announced plans to initiate several changes aimed at making the programme stronger and more effective.

The evaluation, covering fiscal years 2008-2011, reaffirmed that GFTN is an important part of the forestry sector and has played a pivotal role in helping companies towards responsible forest management and ensuring their products come from legal and sustainable timber harvests.

The evaluation recommended specific measures that GFTN will use to guide its future strategy and contribute to WWF’s wider goals of conservation and zero net degradation and deforestation.

WWF commissioned the independent evaluation, which was part of GFTN’s strategy and was scheduled for 2012. But it was brought forward after concerns were raised in a July 2011 report by Global Witness, Pandering to the Loggers. 

“We are grateful to the review team and welcome the findings of the evaluation as a source of information we can learn from and improve. We recognize there is a continuing need to keep the programme under review and we take the findings very seriously,” said George White, head of GFTN. “We have broadly accepted all of the recommendations and will implement them in the programme moving forward.”

Priority recommendations being implemented include:
  • Reviewing overall strategy against WWF’s wider mission, and identifying key integration points to further advance WWF’s conservation goals.
  • Reviewing company participation rules and performance criteria with the aim of disengaging companies that are not committed to GFTN’s mission of responsible forest management.
  • Strengthening management systems and programme governance to ensure uniformity and improve communication.
  • Increasing engagement with local organizations and institutions to broaden demand for responsible forestry.
  • Implementing activities aimed at strengthening the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to advance demand for credible certification.
  • Developing new tools and training materials to help GFTN participants better comply with new regulations.
  • Improving data reporting and information sharing tools.
  • Developing tools to better communicate with the public and business sector with the aim of increasing transparency.
Responses to the Global Witness report

While it was not within the scope of the evaluation to examine in detail each of the allegations made in the Global Witness report, some allegations specifically regarding GFTN’s association with Ta Ann, Jewson and the Danzer Group were reviewed.
  • In relation to Malaysian company Ta Ann, the evaluation found that GFTN participation rules and processes for forest participants were knowingly not followed at the local level. Activities undertaken between the local office and Ta Ann were consistent with trade participation but the Memorandum of Understanding continued to include a Forest participation scope. Furthermore, information appears not to have been adequately shared internally regarding company status, and the evaluation found programme implementation and communication to be inconsistent.
  • WWF has already taken steps to remedy the situation and address inconsistencies related to Ta Ann. The MOU with the company was revised in August 2011 to list only the Lik Shen and Ta Ann Plywood mills as trade participants, rather than the wider group of Ta Ann Holdings Berhad.
  • In the case of UK-based Jewson, the evaluation noted that the company has taken the necessary steps to “clean up” its supply chain and retain GFTN membership, and that the GFTN staff followed due diligence procedures adequately in their dealings with Jewson.
  • As for Global Witness’s allegation regarding Danzer, a GFTN-Germany trade participant, the evaluation noted that GFTN did not violate its participation rules and processes, which do not require participants to source exclusively from GFTN origin.
“GFTN remains an important and innovative transformational programme for the WWF network and for the industry,” said Rodney Taylor, WWF International’s Forests Director. “We will use the findings of the evaluation to continue strengthening the programme to promote responsible forestry in the world’s most valuable and threatened forests.”

Notes to editors

A full copy of the evaluation report is available upon request.

For further information

Chris Chaplin, Media Officer, WWF International, +86 13911747472, cchaplin@wwf.panda.org

Huma Khan, GFTN Communications Manager, +1 202 495 4686, huma.khan@wwfus.org
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images
Sustainable Forestry
© (c) WWF