Since 2007, Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT), a partnership of seven leading organizations, is building the capacity of countries, businesses and communities in Asia Pacific to practice legal and sustainable forest management and trade. Our focus is on timber legality verification and the application of sustainable forest management practices, including those to reduce carbon emissions.
TOP 10 REASONS WHY WE NEED RAFT
1. Asia Pacific is losing its forests. Since 1990, Asia Pacific has lost 38 million hectares of forestland (FAO, State of the World’s Forests 2011) – an area equivalent to the size of Japan.
2. We need those forests. In Asia Pacific, the world’s most densely populated region, more than 500 million people depend on forests for jobs and basic needs. Globally, we all need these forests to absorb and store carbon dioxide, helping to reduce current unsustainable levels of carbon pollution in the atmosphere.
3. Illegal logging is still happening. The illegal timber trade generates the second largest revenue for transnational criminal groups in East Asia and the Pacific, at around US $17 billion, suggesting that 30-40 per cent of the total quantity and export value of wood-based products exported from the region in 2010 was derived from illegal sources (The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime).
4. Unsustainable forest management still dominates. Only 13 per cent of natural production forests in the region are considered to be under sustainable management and only 6 per cent are formally certified as such (Status of Tropical Forest Management 2011. ITTO Technical Series No 38).
5.Demand for responsibly sourced products is growing. New laws that prohibit imports of illegally sourced wood and paper products in major markets and responsible sourcing commitments by big companies mean that forestry sectors across Asia Pacific need new skills and systems to stay competitive. RAFT partners have the expertise to help develop these skills and put in place the systems needed to practice and demonstrate legal and sustainable forestry and trade.
6. Countries in Asia Pacific are increasingly committed to responsible forestry and trade. Countries that export wood and paper products are also putting in place systems to verify the legality of these products. This has created opportunities to work with several countries to design and implement effective, practical and transparent timber legality verification systems.
7. Combatting illegal and unsustainable logging is too big for any one organization. RAFT provides a platform for traditional competitors to pool resources and expertise and have a bigger impact on advancing responsible forestry by working together strategically.
8. Illegal and unsustainable trade in timber requires a transnational response. Timber supply chains are long and complex, involving multiple countries as producers, manufacturers, traders, buyers, investors and regulators. Influencing what happens in the forest requires working at all of these points. Together RAFT partners have the region-wide networks and relationships that enable us to do this.
9. A lot has already been done and learned. RAFT brings together organizations with solid track records of more than 20 years working on forestry issues in the Asia Pacific region. This enables partners to avoid duplication and build on what has already been learned in order to continuously improve RAFT’s approach.
10. A short-term investment that yields long-term results. In the long-term, responsible forestry and trade has the potential to be cost effective relative to conventional practices and ultimately self-sustaining. But in the short-term outside investment is still needed to cover initial costs of training and operational changes, which can be a major obstacle to change.