RAFTing for Sustainable Forest ManagementFrom RILNET News: Destructive forest exploitation in Asia and the Pacific comes with high environmental, social and economic costs for both poor people and national economies, and undermines good governance and the social fabric of communities.
Recognizing the importance of sustainable management of Asia’s forest resources, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its regional program Environmental Cooperation-Asia (Eco-Asia), recently partnered with The Nature Conservancy to implement the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) program, which brings together a catalytic group of NGOs, governments and the private sector to transform the tropical timber trade. RAFT works with wood producers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. In addition, RAFT works in other countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, members of the European Union, and the United States of America to address procurement and investment policies that promote the legal timber trade.
The RAFT initiative aims to improve forest management practices, promote timber trade from certified legal sources, reduce forest-related conflicts, and strengthen regional cooperation on forest management and trade. The initiative works to mainstream the use and acceptance of credible legality standards across the region, allowing businesses to ensure that the wood they purchase comes from well-managed, legally harvested forests.
In addition, RAFT provides training for partners in the areas of participatory planning, conflict management and identification and management of High Conservation Value Forest areas. A three-month training course covers conflict mediation for natural resource management. The course indicates a growing recognition of the importance of trained conflict mediators working in the forestry sector on the social issues threatening sustainable forest management throughout Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea.
RAFT shares lessons learned on a regional scale by collaborating with a wide range of partners from private industry, governments and NGOs to inter-governmental agencies such as ASEAN and the International Tropical Timber Organization. It recognizes the importance of demonstration sites and model enterprises for sustainable and well-managed production forests, for supply-chain management systems, and for responsible investment screening procedures. ECO-Asia’s partners play a key role in informing national and regional policy discussions, as well as facilitating learning networks that will help share knowledge and have a significant impact on the conservation community.
The RAFT program is now in its second year and collaborators under the program include the World Conservation Union (IUCN), Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Tropical Forest Trust (TFT), Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF), Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), ScanCom, DLH, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Xerox.
If you would like to know more about RAFT, please contact Mr. Apichai Thirathon at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in learning more about conflict mediation, please contact Ms. Martine Miller at email@example.com.
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RILNET is supported by the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission (APFC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Also visit the APFC's website at http://www.fao.org/forestry/site/33592/en/