Chinese views of African forests: Evidence and perception of China-Africa links that impact the governance of forests and livelihoods

Issue paper
PDF (550.4 KB)
Published: July 2014
Natural Resource Issues
ISBN: 9781784310677
Product code:17569IIED

Chinese activities in African forests have a wide range of impacts. In some places, Chinese firms appear to comply with corporate social responsibility requirements and contribute to the welfare of local communities, and there is some evidence of increasing concern over forest sustainability. However, for the majority of Chinese timber companies, responsible purchasing policies have yet to be implemented. And while China’s investment in African forests remains a small share of its total investment in the continent, and accounts for a relatively small proportion of its total forest product imports each year, China has become the key destination for timber exported from many African countries.

Through literature review and interviews with a sample of stakeholders, this report offers a range of Chinese perceptions on China’s involvement in African forestry. While the Chinese government often perceives China’s investment as ‘win-win’ cooperation, NGOs, academics and other stakeholders within and outside of China point to the sometimes negative social and environmental impacts and missed opportunities to improve local benefits. A range of organisations in China would welcome better information and relationships with organisations in Africa to explore how Chinese investments support forest livelihoods and sustainability. It is hoped that this report can contribute to establishing and developing such relationships.