A new report by the Asia Forest Partnership (AFP) says that forests in Asia play a critical role in providing a variety of useful services to the livelihood and social stability of millions of people.
By the turn of the Millennium, the forests of the region, particularly in the tropics, were acknowledged to be in crisis. Deforestation and forest degradation were rising to unprecedented rates, often as a direct result of illegal activities.
It was against this backdrop that the Asia Forest Partnership (AFP) was established in 2002 at the Johannesburg. AFP was established as a multi-stakeholder alliance to promote sustainable management of forests in the Asia-Pacific region.
Today, such dialogue is the norm and is a regular feature of meetings of hitherto government-only bodies such as the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), and the FAO Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission.
Ten years ago, illegal logging was often characterized as a domestic law enforcement problem that was the responsibility of those countries to deal with, while those countries, companies, and consumers who processed timber and ultimately bought forest products, looked the other way with respect to the legality of the raw material.
This multi-stakeholder approach is now accepted and institutionalized in formal intergovernmental organizations like APEC and ITTO, trade arrangements like the EU Voluntary Partnership Agreements.