The second phase of TRAFFIC’s project to reduce illegal timber in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Vietnam, and China kicked off in March in Hanoi. This project aims to address the impact of a growing consumer demand for tropical timber in East Asia, and to reduce illegal timber exports. It focuses on reinforcing Chinese and European governments and industry commitments to ensure timber procurement is legal and sustainable.
China is the world’s largest importer of timber with increasing volumes sourced from African countries. According to UN comtrade, China imports of round and sawn wood increased 15% and 30% respectively between 2011 and 2016.
TRAFFIC provides knowledge, input and tools to guide timber companies in the implementation of legal and sustainable practices. Their approach is to work across timber supply chains and to support key stakeholders in their efforts to transition towards full sustainability. They collaborate with Chinese companies operating in Central Africa, training institutions in China, and community-based forestry organizations in Central Africa. Customs training is a priority for which they cooperate with local specialists such as China Customs Administration and Shanghai Customs Training College.
According to the project manager, Chen Hin Keong, the training includes a specific component that includes HS codes, timber identification – focusing on the various methods that support timber identification at the national level, and they bridge it to GTTN so that national customs can check on possible support for timber identification laboratories, further techniques for timber species identification, etc.