Although only 5% of the world's forests are located in Southeast Asia, the region accounted for about 17% of global forest loss in 2000 to 2010: An area about the size of Vietnam was deforested in the past decade. Illegal logging is one major force driving deforestation and degradation. This results in loss of biodiversity, tax revenue and the potential of forest resources to contribute to poverty reduction.
In tropical regions, the challenge of improving forest management to meet certification standards, and increasing pressure to prove timber legality, has led to development of verification schemes. These schemes offer third-party assurance of legality, and, potentially, a step-wise approach to full certification.
However several issues need to be addressed:
Currently there is a proliferation of private and official standards. These standards range from those that apply to all (legality), to those that are compulsory to all exports to the EU and US markets (EU timber regulation and amended Lacey act), and finally to completely voluntary schemes (SFM certification).
With support from PROFOR, the World Bank's East Asia staff in collaboration with the Bank's Agriculture and Rural Development Department examined linkages between certification/verification and forest law enforcement and how the two might be strengthened. The study compared different schemes, considered the proof of legal compliance that they offer, and examined their credibility.
The study focused on certified and verified production forests in Vietnam, Lao PDR, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, and covered both plantations and natural forests.
This activity produced a discussion paper assessing the certification and verification systems currently in place in Southeast Asia, which was published in December 2012 and is available on this page.The report shows that: