Australian Government | WWF

Australian Government

Globally, more than 1 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. In Asia Pacific alone, at least 500 million people directly rely on forests for subsistence and income. But unsustainable land management, driven by rising demand for wood, is leading to rapid deforestation and degradation in the forests of Asia-Pacific. The region alone has lost 38.7 million hectares of forest since 1990, an area half the size of New South Wales, Australia. Illegal logging also poses a significant threat to forests, and the people and biodiversity that depend upon them. Of the legal logging that takes place in the world’s tropical forests, only an estimated 2 per cent is certified.

The innovative Responsible Asia and Forestry Trade (RAFT) programme aims to tackle the issue of deforestation and build the capacity of countries, companies and communities in Asia Pacific to practice responsible forest management and trade. RAFT is a coalition of dedicated partners, including WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), TFT The Forest Trust ), the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF) and TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network.

In December 2012, the Australian government committed to funding RAFT as part of its Illegal Logging: Regional Capacity Building Partnership programme. As part of the programme, RAFT partners will work to develop the capacity of existing institutions in Asia Pacific with the mandate and ability to reach a wide range of stakeholders, and contribute towards the goal of eradicating illegally and destructively sourced timber from global supply chains while increasing the proportion of legally verified wood products being traded internationally. Verifiably legal logging and trade is a critical first step in achieving full sustainability.

This new phase of the RAFT programme builds on five years of partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), from 2006 – 2011, and taps into the power of global trade to promote responsible forestry in Asia Pacific.