China introduces new law to safeguard forests and improve governance – Client Earth
On 1 July, China’s newly amended forest law came into effect, marking the first revision of the law in over twenty years.
The law comes with a number of significant improvements, aiming to better protect China’s forest resources, promote sustainable development and contribute to the national policy of building an ecological civilisation.
Key changes to the law
The amended forest law has several new components.
For one, it clarifies forest ownership in China and defines the legitimate rights and interests of the owners, which are the state, the collective (groups) and individuals. As part of this, it allows rights for use of the forests, trees and woodlands to be transferred, leased and valued as investment capital.
It also emphasises forest protection. By categorising forests as for either public benefit or commercial use, it allows for the adoption of different management measures. Further to this, it strictly controls logging of natural forests in the country and limits the annual harvest volume with permits and specific regulations.
More importantly, the amended forest law includes a ban on buying, transporting, and/or processing illegally sourced timber, and requires processing companies to establish a data record of raw materials and products (Article 65).
Establishing a ledger management system by law to record input and output of raw materials and timber products can be an effective way to identify timber sources. This system should also be applicable for timber imported into China, and has significant impact on traceability. A further step should be explored along the timber supply chain, especially on due diligence obligations.
While the law stipulates that “no operator or individual may knowingly purchase, process, or transport timber of illegal sources,” it has clear ambiguity and thus leaves a loophole if an operator claims lack of knowledge. Strong enforcement is therefore very important, and an implementable due diligence system is urgently needed.
Towards better timber governance
While the scope of the forest law is within China’s territory, the potential implications of Article 65 could be substantial and far-reaching if implemented effectively. China is the top timber importer and consumer in the world, but many countries that supply the Chinese market with timber and forest products are at high risk of illegal timber harvesting and broader forest conversion due to poor governance.
As a result, export‐oriented enterprises in China are facing pressure from international markets where more and more countries have legislation in place requiring imports of only legally‐harvested timber. Chinese timber companies themselves are increasingly vocal about the support they need to ensure their products meet the requirements of international buyers who need to comply with timber regulations.
Alongside the new law, if China takes practical and effective measures to ensure that only legally sourced timber and timber products enter the country, it can greatly contribute to legal timber trade worldwide. In taking decisive action to combat illegal logging and to protect global natural resources, China would also be supporting climate change mitigation and the preservation of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
It is yet to be seen how the amended law will be implemented, as more detailed judicial interpretations and additional measures for some of the articles are expected in the coming months. Nonetheless, the new law is a positive step towards safeguarding forests and improving forest governance – with implications for not only China but also worldwide.
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This is a second polite reminder to let you know we are conducting an anonymous evaluation funded by the World Resources Institute (WRI) of forest monitoring information and tools, and their usefulness, with a particular focus on Global Forest Watch (GFW), and stakeholder perspectives.
The German CBFP Facilitation has commissioned a package of 6 thematic studies on pertinent issues in Congo Basin forest politics (namely REDD+ in the Congo Basin, Land Use Planning, Transhumance, Ecotourism, Sustainable value chains, China´s role in Central African forestry) as well as an overarching synthesis study. Each study consists of a full study report as well as a short policy brief. Please download the CBFP Study Package…
...In addition to this effort at the global policy level, the facilitation commissioned six thematic studies related to specific opportunities and challenges for the forests of the Congo Basin and the people who depend directly on the products, biodiversity and ecosystem services the forests provide. The six studies and a policy brief for each study were prepared between December 2020 and August 2021. They focus on the following topics...
Over the last 10 to 15 years, China has increasingly taken note of the potential environmental and forest impacts of its overseas trade, investment and other economic activities. However, timber trade between China and Africa has so far not met the requirements of international legality and sustainability standards. Furthermore, China is highly involved in investment and construction of infrastructure projects that may have caused forest conversion due to a lack of comprehensive, effective management measures and a lack of environmental impact analyses.
This study was performed with the intent of understanding the challenges to developing eco-tourism in the Congo Basin, and of identifying actions and recommendations to overcome these challenges. A background study of the existing literature, research articles, reports and national strategies (where available) was performed to ascertain the political strategies and academic understanding of ecotourism in the region.
Conclusions and outlook: Adapted local LUP processes can serve as a foundation for securing tenure, reducing social conflicts between external and local actors, or even within forest adjacent communities meeting the SDGs, implementing REDD+ and operationalizing the many commitments to zero deforestation commodity production.
This study was carried out to shed light on issues related to this activity and provide basic knowledge of various aspects relating to livestock rearing, neo-pastoralism and unsustainable transhumance. The study area covers the Sudano-Sahelian region of Africa – specifically, the area stretching from the northern fringes of the Congo Basin (Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic) and the south-eastern part of the southern Lake Chad Basin, namely the Sudano-Guinean savanna mosaics. The methodology adopted was to collect data from various sources, including from key stake-holders and literature review.
The first case study is dedicated to the spectacular policy announcement by Gabon that it would make FSC timber certification mandatory from 2022 onwards for all concessionaires willing to keep operating in the country. Such certification is relatively advanced in Gabon and this unprecedented policy stands as an intriguing and promising example in the region. The second case study relates to a prominent approach that has emerged and grown over the last decade, namely corporate zero-deforestation commitments. This is complementary to the first case study as it refers to a process initiated by the private sector itself, and we apply it to the oil palm sector in Cameroon. For the third case study, we move to the importation side of things with the most advanced policy effort to take action in consuming countries, namely the French National Strategy against Imported Deforestation (SNDI).
The report draws on a thorough review of the available literature. It is complemented by 21 semi-structured anonymous interviews with key REDD+ experts. The authors conducted the interviews between November 2020 and February 2021. Interview partners include represent-atives of Congo Basin countries, donor states, academia, NGOs and independent technical experts. Instead of going to lengths in elucidating the entire range of options for reducing deforestation and forest degradation, the study report lists concrete courses of action which might be pursued in the future.
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Dear Stakeholder. We are conducting an anonymous evaluation funded by the World Resources Institute (WRI) of forest monitoring information and tools, and their usefulness, with a particular focus on Global Forest Watch (GFW), and stakeholder perspectives.
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