Responsible Timber Trade


Threats to the world’s forests are placing increased pressures on the forest products industry. Already half of the world’s original forest cover has been destroyed and much of that destruction has taken place over the last 50 years. The forest industry, which is estimated to harvest 1.6 billion cubic meters of wood every year, is inextricably linked to forest destruction and illegal logging.

Illegal and unsustainable logging occurs on a large scale in many sensitive areas in the world, driven in part by the demand for cheap timber and paper products. Being a world production center, China is one of the biggest timber importers in the world and hence poses a high risk of using illegally logged wood.

WWF believes that it is possible for industries to meet the demand for forest products in a beneficial and sustainable way by practicing and supporting responsible forestry, therefore engaging Chinese companies in responsible trade is a major approach of WWF China in tackling illegal timber trade.

Global Forest & Trade Network(GFTN)

© WWF China
WWF/GFTN-China Logo
© WWF China
The Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) was launched by WWF, aimed at eliminating illegal logging worldwide, promoting credible forest certification, protecting bio-diversity, and contributing to the sustainable development of human beings and nature. The GFTN works to increase market demand for responsible forest products by facilitating trade links between participants in Buyer Groups and Producer Groups. The Network encourages responsible forestry while promoting the business interests of the companies involved.
GFTN encourages participants to implement legal trade step by step and finally realize trade of FSC certified products through various activities, including providing technical support to companies, jointly making action plans, implementing annual audit, and establishing market links among legal enterprises domestically and internationally.
At present the global network covers 34 producer and consumer nations throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In all, approximately 350 companies have committed to responsible forest management and responsible purchasing of forest products. The annual wood products turnover of GFTN-China participants amounts to USD 45 billion, while the forest participants manage 27,300,000 ha forests.

Global Forest & Trade Network –China, GFTN-China

The Global Forest & Trade Network – China (GFTN-China) includes Hong Kong and Taiwan and is the Chinese chapter of GFTN founded in 2005. Chinese forest product enterprises committed to legal logging and sustainable forest management can apply for the membership of GFTN-China. GFTN-China provides a highly visible forum for Chinese companies to demonstrate their commitment to the responsible production and purchasing of forest products. GFTN-China works to curb illegal logging through promoting and improving management of valuable and threatened forests both in China and in countries supplying wood and fibre to China. GFTN-China has provided various activities including training, workshops, field trips, and market surveys to encourage more companies to join GFTN-China with strong commitment to legal liabilities and FSC. Up to now 23 companies in China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), ranging from flooring, furniture, and plywood to forest management, have become GFTN-China members,

Within the past few years, GFTN-China participants have made great progress in implementing action plans. After getting training from GFTN-China consultants, those participants have realized the negative effect that illegal wood sourcing might have on the company and have actively adopted the tracking system. With the help of GFTN-China those sourcing overseas have adjusted their suppliers to reduce and eventually stop sourcing wood from countries with high risk of illegal logging. Many participants have also passed the FSC-COC certification, building a foundation for trading FSC certified products.

Benefits of joining the GFTN-China:

A Stable Supply of Responsible Timber Sources
A major constraint facing committed companies is the lack of a consistent source of responsible or certified timber from supplying countries. The GFTN-China will assist in addressing this problem by linking like-minded companies to create incentives that are beneficial to the network. Creating a demand for responsible forest products as a network will lead to more suppliers wanting to achieve sustainable practices. Being part of the GFTN-China can help your company maintain a consistent supply of timber from responsible sources.

Capacity Building for Providing Legal and Certified Products
Through communication, training, baseline appraisal, and conferences, GFTN-China helps the participants progressively master the way to reduce the risk of sourcing illegal and unsustainable timber. The staff capacity and the sourcing policy of GFTN-China participants can then meet the requirement of sustainable development.

Networking and Marketing Opportunities
As part of the Global FTN, GFTN-China participants will benefit from many opportunities to network with global participants, such as business trips to visit potential buyers or suppliers. By developing business contacts with members of the worldwide network, participants have advantages when entering into new markets or seeking new buyers and suppliers.

Information Access
One of the bottlenecks in finding responsible sources of timber is the difficulty in accessing accurate and timely information. GFTN-China facilitates information flow and sharing so that participant companies can enjoy the benefits of increased access to relevant information on responsible sources of timber and forestry.

Improved Corporate Image
Improving your company’s environmental performance will make your company more appealing to consumers and investors, especially in competitive markets. Participant companies can promote their commitment to purchasing timber from responsible sources in order to increase their reputation and build a more positive corporate image.

Strategies to Achieve Responsible Practices
Achieving responsible practices requires concrete action on the part of participant companies. GFTN-China will work with committed companies to develop a stepwise approach to responsible forest management or forest products sourcing.

Integration into the Global Economy
To compete in the emerging global economy and gain access to foreign markets, companies must fulfill international environmental standards while remaining competitive in quality and price. As part of a global network, GFTN-China offers access to global expertise, resources, and tools. By helping companies in China to achieve an internationally accepted standard of responsible timber sourcing, we help companies to equip themselves competitively in the global economy.

Requirements for all GFTN-China participants

All participants
  • must commit to responsible forestry and credible forest certification;
  • must comply with the GFTN Communication Code of Practice;
  • must pay the applicable fees by the due date. For forest participants, the annual membership fee is USD 1500. For trade participants, the annual membership fee is USD 2900 to 5800 according to its annual turnover sales of wood products.
  • must undergo regular and irregular audits arranged by GFTN-China.
    Forest participants
  • must commit to achieve credible forest certification for each FMU it owns or manages within the time limits specified.
Trade participants
  • progressively eliminating the use of timber that originates from unwanted sources;
  • increasing the proportion of timber that originates from sources with higher levels of environmental status in the following hierarchy (shown in order from lower to higher) –
1. known licensed,
2. progressing toward certification,
3. credibly certified;
4. achieving credible chain of custody certification within the time limits specified.

Policy Advocacy in Responsible Trade

In 2007 and 2009, China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) and Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issued National Guidelines on “Sustainable Overseas Silviculture” and on “Sustainable Overseas Forestry Development and Utilization” for Chinese companies operating overseas. While not mandatory, these guidelines signal the government intention to regulate Chinese overseas investment in the forestry sector and to address the issue of illegal logging. WWF has been an active stakeholder in the consultation process and has provided support to SFA in Guideline dissemination and training.