TRAFFIC trains Vietnamese enforcement officers on timber laws
Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 24th September 2019—TRAFFIC partnered with the Vietnam Forestry Administration last week to hold a two-day workshop for 35 Vietnamese forestry and customs officials to build their capacity in identifying illegal timber and handling violations. The workshop, which wrapped up on Friday in Vinh Phuc province, provided key insights into international timber trade and current trade scenarios in the country, guidelines for verifying timber legality for customs, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the identification of wood and wood products. At the workshop, TRAFFIC also disseminated its Guidelines for Verifying Timber Legality for Customs, a toolkit to support customs and forestry officials.
The Vietnamese timber industry is booming, with the country now exporting wood and wood products to 120 countries, including such large markets as the US, Europe, Japan, and South Korea. By the end of August 2019, the value of forest product exports is expected to reach USD7.08 billion, an 18.6% increase year-on-year from 2018. The government estimates it will reach USD11 billion by the end of the year.
However, despite recent successes, key difficulties remain, with the trafficking of illegally sourced timber into Viet Nam leading to doubts about the provenance of the exports. To address this for the European market, Viet Nam has entered into a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade), an action plan drawn up by the EU in 2003 to combat illegal logging. The partnership came into effect in June 2019 and Viet Nam is now working on the FLEGT timber legality assurance system, a mechanism that ensures sustainability in wood products trade through understanding and conforming to national laws. Training on both FLEGT and the timber legality assurance system was provided at the workshop.
“Vietnamese enforcement officers face many challenges. Timber is frequently mislabeled, and it can be difficult to know which procedure to follow when handling violations. We are helping their efforts by giving them important practical skills training that they can apply to ensure laws are followed, while supporting Viet Nam in the enforcement of its international treaties,” said Cuong Nguyen, senior project officer at TRAFFIC, based in Viet Nam.
The event was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) as part of the Reducing Illegal Timber Exports from Cameroon and Viet Nam project, which aims to boost legal compliance in the countries’ respective timber industries. This workshop will be followed by two more in the Central and Southern regions of Viet Nam.