Wood industry business groups across Vietnam have signed a commitment to promote the development of the industry in a “sustainable and responsible” manner.
They include the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (Viforest), Binh Duong Furniture Association, the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Dong Nai, Forest Products Association of Binh Dinh, Handicrafts and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (Hawa) and Thanh Hoa Timber and Forestry Products Association.
They will strictly comply with the law to ensure all activities involved in importing, exporting, exploiting, transporting, buying, selling and processing wood are legal.
They will support the government in inspecting and monitoring imported timber, especially the import of tropical wood from neighbouring countries and Africa.
They will require their members to strictly comply with the Decree on Vietnam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS) and not use tropical wood, especially from Cambodia, Laos and Africa for making products for export because these suppliers do not meet the criteria for risk-free geographical area.
They will urge members to use timber from domestically planted forests and imported from active geographic areas, and risk-free timber species.
In the domestic market, they will work towards using timber in a responsible way, being transparent about their timber supply sources and shifting from the use of imported to domestically grown timber.
They will work closely with authorities to detect, prevent and eliminate fraud in the industry.
To implement these commitments, each association will develop an action plan with a specific road map and allocate enough resources for effective implementation.
Viforest chairman Do Xuan Lap said: “Vietnam’s wood processing industry has become important not only from the economic but also social and environmental perspectives from many years.”
Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry believes it will reach export target for this year at $12.5 billion.
But the community’s view of the industry is that its development is associated with a decrease in forests, causing many environmental and social consequences, including being the main cause of the recent natural disasters and floods.
Lap said: “In fact, this understanding is no longer correct. For a long time, Vietnam’s wood industry has been accustomed to using raw materials from regrown forests. This is consistent with the expansion of replanted forest areas in the country.”
The timber industry has benefited from the programme 327 for greening bare hills since 1994, he said.
The volume of timber harvested from regrown forests is estimated at over 35 million cubic metres annually.
The demand for raw materials has boosted afforestation, increasing forest cover, improving the supply chain of the forestry sector, creating jobs, and improving living standard of households tending forests, and positively affecting the environment and society, he said.
The use of timber from replanted forests is appropriate for Vietnam’s main export markets such as the US, Europe and Japan, he explained.
“These markets have strict regulations on wood origin and the legality of wood. Consumers in these markets do not accept wood products originating from natural forests, especially tropical and precious timber species.
“Vietnamese wood processing enterprises are well aware of the regulations and consumer tastes in these markets and strictly comply with these regulations and requirements,” Lap said.
The industry also uses wood imported from the US, EU, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and other countries that have a developed forestry industry and where forests are planted, managed and exploited sustainably.
Also at the signing commitment ceremony held in Ho Chi Minh City on November 9, the associations announced the establishment of the Green Vietnam Fund to change society’s perception about the wood industry through focused activities and carry out activities under the commitment.
Nguyen Chanh Phuong, member of the Canvassing Board for the establishment of the fund, said funding for it is from the associations and businesses in the industry and other donors. It has so far mobilised 4.6 billion dong ($200,000), he said.
It would prioritise afforestation, forest protection, protection of bio-diversity, support to livelihood development activities by organisations and individuals directly participating in forest protection, and others, he said.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK