Vietnam has a long tradition of exporting forest and timber products with an export market worth over 8 billion USD in 2017. The national timber industry alone employs more than 300,000 workers; many Vietnamese people depend on forest products for their livelihood and income.
Nearly 100 per cent of these timber products come from forests certified according to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a certification system that promotes sustainable forest management worldwide. Around 231,721 ha of forests in Vietnam are FSC certified today, 29,828 ha are privately-owned and 201,893 ha are under state ownership. The Vietnamese government has set the objective of getting 500,000 hectares of forests FSC certified by 2020.
Despite of this, the overall concept of sustainable forest management and responsible timber products is not very well known on the domestic market; among the local timber industry, let alone among Vietnamese consumers. Also, the connection between the production of timber products and the environmental impacts on Vietnam´s forests, biodiversity and wildlife are not always made that easily.
To raise awareness about the importance of protecting Vietnam´s forest resources, WWF-Vietnam launched a campaign about sustainable forest products in November last year at the largest national timber trade fair taking place in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). The four-day trade fair welcomed more than 13,300 visitors in total. More than 800 visitors, individuals and their families joined WWF-Vietnam for an Augmented Reality (AR) action displaying a growing forest developed by WWF on that occasion. Famous Vietnamese youth celebrity, Phan Anh, endorsed WWF´s campaign and shared the AR “growing the forest” clip on his social media channels – reaching over 30,000 supporters – with the words: “Let’s use responsible timber products to save our natural forests and protect our wildlife, so that our children will still have natural forests left.”
The AR display was a symbolic reference to a project under the RAFT partnership that WWF-Vietnam initiated last year with the local Vietnamese timber processing and retailing industry to promote responsible timber products on the domestic market. Three local timber processing companies (Quoc Thang, Thang Loi and Forexco Quang Nam) and two large national retailing companies (UMA and Nha Xinh) which sell finished timber products on the Vietnamese market joined the project with the objective to start manufacture and trade certified timber products over the coming year.