The Lower Mekong in transition – latest trends and impacts of China on forest trade
Forest trade in the Lower Mekong region is in transition. 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, 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.
Held on the margins of the XV World Forestry Congress, this UN-REDD side event brought 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 also painted 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.