Let’s play a word association game. What do you think of when you hear the word China?
Most of you would probably think of the country’s thriving economy, RMB currency valuation, politics, factory pollution, or what you often see on TV in some Western countries. On a lighter note, some of you might think of your favorite Chinese food.
Very few of you, I suspect, would think of China as one of the most forested countries with the highest afforestation rate in the world. While you might find it difficult to believe or imagine, China has the fastest growing forest area globally, has in the recent years become a dominant player in the global forest products market. Thanks to the government’s commitment to increasing the quality and quantity of China’s forests and its sustainable management, China now has more than 200 million hectares of forests, increasing its forest coverage from 12% twenty years ago to more than 20% by 2010. The total output of the forest sector is expected to reach 2.26 trillion Chinese Yuan by 2012 and employs close to 60 million people.
With a considerable growth potential in sight and rising consumer trend in greener consumption, Chinese government has recognized the importance of eco-labels to indicate its locally produced wood-products come from sustainably managed forests. The country is now aggressively working towards building an internationally recognized national certification scheme that takes the unique characteristics of China’s forestry industry’s into consideration.
At the Paper Contract with China- Paper Industry Sustainability Forum 2011 in August, as APP-China’s employee, I had the opportunity to listen to a group of highly respected industry experts on their thoughts surrounding responsible purchasing and sustainable development. Cao Chunyu, Chairman of China National Pulp and Paper Research Institute pointed out that “With the economic globalization and the increasing awareness of sustainable development, China’s paper industry needs to move forward in sustainable forest management while continuing its efforts in green production, and in turn expanding sustainable practice to the whole industrial chain.”
Shortly after the forum, China’s forest products industry welcomed one of the most exciting news of the year- China has become a member of the world’s largest forest certification system. At the end of August, PEFC International unanimously approved the membership application of the China Forest Certification Council (CFCC). CFCC is now qualified to apply for PEFC endorsement as the next step.
All of this sounds good but what does it have to do with me, you might ask? Well, if the thought of living a year without “Made in China” products has ever crossed your mind and you’ve recognized how ridiculously difficult it might be, you might find your purchasing decision does have an impact on the environment when you choose paper products with an internationally recognized green label. Very likely, in the near future, the paper cup you are holding in your hand will be produced by sustainable Chinese paper companies with CFCC/PEFC-Chain of Custody (CoC). I hope in the next game of word association, you would think of legal, sustainable and certified forests products when you think of China.
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