The 5th Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry (MMRF5) of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was held from August 23 to 25, 2022. Lin Hwa-Ching, director general of Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture (COA) Executive Yuan, led a delegation representing Taiwan (under the name of Chinese Taipei, followed the APEC rules) to the meeting held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The meeting focused on issues related to sustainable management of forests and promotion of legal trade in timber and forest products. Lin, in addition to sharing Taiwan’s achievements in promoting legal trade in forest products through traceability management and combating illegal logging, also engaged in bilateral exchanges on forestry policy with representatives of Korea, Japan, and Australia. The COA hopes to continue cooperating with all APEC member economies to promote sustainable forestry development in the Asia-Pacific region.
There was no formal declaration of MMRF5 because of the inability of participating member economies to reach consensus on a statement of intent to ensure regional peace and stability. However, all the economies expressed considerable concern about issues including forest restoration, combating illegal logging and associate trade , and mitigating climate change.
Taiwan issues report on its efforts to promote legal trade in timber and wood products
At the meeting on the 24th, Lin Hwa-Ching explained Taiwan’s efforts to increase forest cover and promote forest conservation, afforestation and sustainable management. He also explained Taiwan’s proactive adoption of an identification system for legal forest products – Taiwan Forest Products Production Traceability System, which was set up as early as 2019, was the first forest products traceability system in the world to incorporate blockchain technology. Domestic timbers are all labeled with a unique identification QR Code and full traceability, to ensure the sources of all wood products are legal and traceable. This has become an important foundation for promoting legal trade and combating illegal trade in timber.
Moreover, in response to international concern about the issues of illegal logging and associated trade, Lin pointed out that Taiwan is planning to amend relevant laws to prevent illegal international trade in forest products. After the amendments are passed, any exported or imported forest product will be required to have a source certification document that accords with Taiwan’s regulatory system or that of the country where the timber was harvested. This measure will bring Taiwan into line with international efforts to combat illegal logging and associate trade.
Taiwan’s representatives engage in bilateral talks with a number of other delegations
During the meeting, Lin also led Taiwan’s delegation in bilateral discussions with representatives from Japan, Australia, and Korea. They broadly exchanged views and experiences on issues including increasing timber self-sufficiency, increasing forest carbon sinks in order to achieve the net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050, and combating illegal logging and associated trade. Besides absorbing the experiences of Korea’s promotion of the forest therapy industry and Japan’s promotion of domestic timber, Taiwan also shared its achievements in using technology to combat illegal logging and the construction of the forest products traceability system.The Australian delegation had particularly expressed a keen interest in Taiwan’s use of blockchain technology in the forest products traceability system and the use of DNA molecule heredity to distinguish individual cypress trees as the unique and efficient tool against illegal logging, and hoped to learn more about and learn from these measures in the future.
The COA states that the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry is an important platform for Taiwan to participate in international forestry affairs, and facilitates promotion of international cooperation and exchanges in forestry technology and forest conservation. The Forestry Bureau is actively researching amendments to the law to further combat illegal logging, and will strengthen forest management and enhance the carbon-sink function of forest, thereby practically achieve the international goals of forest restoration, net zero carbon emissions, and combating illegal timber logging and associate trade.