60. A special Asia-Pacific Forestry Week plenary session entitled, “Dialogue on timber trade, forest law compliance and governance,” addressed sustainability in the trade of timber and forest products and issues related to forest governance and forest law compliance.
61. The following key points emerged from the special session: (a) issues related to illegal logging and associated trade are extremely complex and require strong commitment and cooperation from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector; (b) patterns of timber production and consumption are changing in directions that encourage legal and sustainable forest harvesting, although increasing demand may exacerbate problems in the short-term; (c) consumer countries can facilitate legal and sustainable timber production through awareness raising and robust public procurement policies that create incentives for forest certification; and (d) recognition should be given to both national and transnational challenges related to illegal logging and associated trade.
62. On the basis of Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2008/8 and the special session plenary, the Commission considered challenges relating to trade in forest products, forest law compliance and forest governance in the region.
63. The Commission emphasized the importance of forest law compliance and acknowledged the negative social, environmental and economic consequences of illegal logging and associated trade. Delegates recognized the need for all actors (including producers, processors, and consumers) to share responsibilities in addressing illegal forestry activities by jointly developing collaborative modalities, including exchanging information, sharing data and experiences, and facilitating bilateral and multilateral dialogue. The Commission requested FAO to implement a stock-taking review of national forest law compliance and governance activities and initiatives.
64. The Commission welcomed the development of frank and open discussions in national, regional and international dialogues related to forest law enforcement, governance and trade issues, as well as positive actions being taken by member countries to address these issues.
65. The Commission noted the importance of regional processes in forest law enforcement and governance and the limited coordination and slow progress with these processes. The Commission urged member countries and FAO to strengthen discussion and collaborative action to enhance regional and national actions to combat illegal logging and associated trade.
66. The Commission noted the need for clear definitions of the terms related to forest law compliance and highlighted efforts to distinguish between legal-but-unsustainable logging and illegal logging. Some delegates highlighted complexities of customary land tenure systems, where logging activities have sometimes been mischaracterized as being illegal.
67. Delegates drew attention to awareness-raising activities in consumer countries to promote the consumption of legally-produced and certified timber, to capture price premiums, and to promote forest law compliance.
68. Delegates stressed that combating illegal forestry activities entails significant financial and human costs. The Commission urged FAO and other international partners to assist countries in strengthening capacity and securing financial resources to enable effective implementation of measures to combat illegal logging and improve forest law compliance.
69. The Commission requested FAO and other international partners to assist member countries in developing and implementing simple and practical tools and mechanisms for combating illegal logging and associated trade, including voluntary forest and chain-of-custody certification (including mutual recognition), legality verification systems, national standards and codes of practice, criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, and reviews of legislation and governance-related initiatives.