Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - Experts in forest governance from ten countries in Africa and Asia are due to 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.
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said on Tuesday the Forest Governance Learning Group (FGLG) members would meet from 7-11 March in Tengchong, Yunnan Province.
The conference will be preceded by the launch in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday of the China-Africa Forest Governance Platform, which seeks sustainable, pro-poor forests.
Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa as well as India, Indonesia and Vietnam are among countries expected to take part in the two events.
Since 2003, under a programme facilitated by the 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,” said James Mayers, head of natural resources at IIED and convener of the FGLG.
“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,” he noted.
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.
Developed by the FGLG, the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform aims at enabling policy researchers and forest specialists from Africa and China to share information on issues such as forestry investment, timber supply chains and forest-linked livelihoods.
FGLG is an international alliance that promotes policy-making that serves forest-dependent communities and sustainability.
IIED said the conference participants would visit communities with forest-based livelihoods, as well as ‘alternative’ livelihood projects and also learn about China’s log imports from Myanmar and governance at the cross-border level.
Presently, China’s imports of African timber and investments in land use in forest areas are both increasing, and China is now the top importer of timber from several African nations.
Yet information about the positive and negative impacts of these trends is often weak or inaccessible.
Research has shown that while some Chinese companies complied with corporate social responsibility requirements and contributed to the welfare of local communities, others failed to compensate rights-holding communities adequately for access to forest land, and illegally and excessively exploited forest resources.