China introduces new regulation to safeguard forests and enhance governance


On 1 July, China’s newly amended forest regulation got here into impact, marking the primary revision of the regulation in over twenty years.

The regulation comes with a variety of vital enhancements, aiming to higher defend China’s forest assets, promote sustainable growth and contribute to the nationwide coverage of constructing an ecological civilisation.

Key modifications to the regulation

The amended forest regulation has a number of new parts.

For one, it clarifies forest possession in China and defines the reputable rights and pursuits of the house owners, that are the state, the collective (teams) and people. As a part of this, it permits rights to be used of the forests, timber and woodlands to be transferred, leased and valued as funding capital.

It additionally emphasises forest safety. By categorising forests as for both public profit or industrial use, it permits for the adoption of various administration measures. Additional to this, it strictly controls logging of pure forests within the nation and limits the annual harvest quantity with permits and particular rules.

Extra importantly, the amended forest regulation features a ban on shopping for, transporting, and/or processing illegally sourced timber, and requires processing corporations to determine a knowledge document of uncooked supplies and merchandise (Article 65).

Establishing a ledger administration system by regulation to document enter and output of uncooked supplies and timber merchandise might be an efficient solution to establish timber sources. This technique also needs to be relevant for timber imported into China, and has vital influence on traceability. An additional step must be explored alongside the timber provide chain, particularly on due diligence obligations.

Whereas the regulation stipulates that “no operator or particular person could knowingly buy, course of, or transport timber of unlawful sources,” it has clear ambiguity and thus leaves a loophole if an operator claims lack of know-how. Sturdy enforcement is due to this fact crucial, and an implementable due diligence system is urgently wanted.

In the direction of higher timber governance

Whereas the scope of the forest regulation is inside China’s territory, the potential implications of Article 65 may very well be substantial and far-reaching if carried out successfully. China is the highest timber importer and client on this planet, however many international locations that offer the Chinese language market with timber and forest merchandise are at excessive threat of unlawful timber harvesting and broader forest conversion on account of poor governance.

Because of this, export‐oriented enterprises in China are dealing with stress from worldwide markets the place increasingly international locations have laws in place requiring imports of solely legally‐harvested timber. Chinese language timber corporations themselves are more and more vocal concerning the help they should guarantee their merchandise meet the necessities of worldwide patrons who have to adjust to timber rules.

Alongside the brand new regulation, if China takes sensible and efficient measures to make sure that solely legally sourced timber and timber merchandise enter the nation, it will probably tremendously contribute to authorized timber commerce worldwide. In taking decisive motion to fight unlawful logging and to guard international pure assets, China would even be supporting local weather change mitigation and the preservation of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

It’s but to be seen how the amended regulation shall be carried out, as extra detailed judicial interpretations and extra measures for a number of the articles are anticipated within the coming months. Nonetheless, the brand new regulation is a optimistic step in direction of safeguarding forests and bettering forest governance – with implications for not solely China but additionally worldwide.

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