The Lower Mekong in transition – latest trends and impacts of China on forest trade
Forest trade in the Lower Mekong region is currently undergoing a significant shift. Viet Nam and Thailand are booming as wood processing and export hubs. Source countries like Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia are transitioning to more sustainable plantation-based timber industries. China plays a key role as an export destination because of the significant domestic consumption of wood products and the size of the wood processing industry for re-export.
In recent years however, there has been plunge in the export of primary wood products from the Lower Mekong to China. One species of particular note has been rosewood. China’s demand for rosewood has dampened in recent years by escalating prices, resulting in part from improved control on export of CITES-listed species, and the availability of less costly substitute species from Africa. These developments indicate both sustainability concerns and opportunities.
Launched in 2020, the UN-REDD Lower Mekong Initiative works to change the trends in illegal logging through improved forest governance, trade and investments. The initiative supports countries and actors in the Lower Mekong to design policies and standards for ensuring legal and sustainable timber trade.
Building on the momentum generated by the initiative, this side event will bring together governments, private companies, smallholders and financial institutions in China and the Lower Mekong region to discuss the interface between timber market demand and efforts to make supply chains legal and more sustainable. It will also paint a vision of how a balance can be found between the growing Chinese market and supply chain actors to achieve a strong and sustainable forest industry in the region and beyond.