Report sets stage for China-Africa forest governance research

IIED has published a report that identifies research that can shed light on the positive and negative effects of Chinese investment in African forests, and show how to improve governance of the timber trade.

News, 31 July 2013
Timber in Ethiopia

Timber in Ethiopia. Credit: Nitu Kafle

The report summarises the first meeting of the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, a new group that aims to ensure that such investments are environmentally sustainable and provide benefits to local communities.

Platform participants proposed research on:

  • The discrepancies between data on African forest product exports and Chinese imports.
  • Guidelines, standards, principles and legislation in Africa and China that affect the activities of Chinese forest enterprises in African countries
  • Practices and models of scales and types of effective forest management, and related issues such as land and forest tenure, in China and African countries
  • Cross-sectoral analysis to understand how Chinese investments in non-forest sector investments impact on forest governance
  • Timber trade and forestry investments involving Chinese companies in specific African countries – through case studies and investigative reporting by Chinese journalists.
  • Chinese domestic market regulations and consumer priorities, and their potential to encourage overseas Chinese companies to apply sustainable forest management principles.

"China's relationship with Africa is maturing and there is great potential – through research, dialogue and joint action – for forests, and local people’s forest rights and benefits, to be amongst the winners from this," says James Mayers, head of IIED’s Natural Resources Group.

"There is much work to be done to improve compliance with laws protecting forests and local benefits, and there is great scope in efforts to foster sustainable enterprises and to develop timber legality verification programmes," says Mayers. "Our hope is that others will join in to develop the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform so that this exciting potential can be realised."

The meeting of the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform was co-hosted by the International Institute for Environment and Development, the Chinese Academy of Forestry and the Global Environmental Institute in March 2013 in Beijing, China.

Download the report China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, Report of an Inception Event and Future Agenda.

Read a related blog post by James Mayers China in Africa’s forests.