Experts in forest governance from ten countries in Africa and Asia will meet this week in China to take stock of their successes and frustrations over the past decade and learn how their hosts handle issues in the sector, Mike Shanahan, spokesperson for the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said today.
The Forest Governance Learning Group (FGLG) members will meet on 7-11 March in Tengchong, Yunnan Province. This follows the launch, in Beijing on 5-6 March, of the China-Africa Forest Governance Platform.
Many of the new platform’s members will travel to the Tenchong meeting, which will enable Chinese policy researchers to build relationships with counterparts from not only Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa), but also India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Since 2003, under a programme facilitated by IIED, the FGLG teams in these countries have worked to promote approaches to forest governance that encourage sustainable forestry and benefit local communities.
“The FGLG has a decade of experience, in a diverse array of African and Asian nations, of how to secure local rights, legitimise forest products and use forests to combat climate change,” James Mayers, head of natural resources at IIED and convenor of the FGLG, said.
“Its members have strengths in doing research, working with marginalised communities, connecting diverse groups of influential opinion formers and decision makers, and affecting policy. This expertise is of deep relevance to China, and indeed countries around the world.”
The meeting – co-hosted by the Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute and the Chinese Academy of Forestry — is also an opportunity for FGLG members to learn about Chinese approaches to forest governance.
They will visit communities with forest-based livelihoods, as well as ‘alternative’ livelihood projects. They will also learn about China’s log imports from Myanmar and governance at the cross-border level.
“The Chinese government has recently been increasing its efforts to develop better policies and to collaborate with other governments – such as those of the United States, the European Union and Australia — to develop better verification systems along the entire supply chain,” Mayers explained.
“With much of China’s timber coming from other parts of Asia, and an increasing amount from Africa, the knowledge and expertise of the FGLG teams in those countries can make a critical contribution towards sustainable, pro-poor forestry.”
*Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/WCS. China, which has been tearing African forests apart in the past eight yeaers or so, has become top importer of African timber.