Civil Society Advisory Group discusses smallholder challenges posed by timber trade requirements

30 November 2023

Community workshop on forest governance conducted under an ITTO project in Cambodia. Photo: H.C. Thang

30 November 2023: The challenges facing smallholders and community forestry in light of trade measures such as the European Union’s new regulation on deforestation-free and forest-degradation-free supply chains was the focus of an event held by ITTO’s Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG) as part of Trade and Markets Day during the 59th session of the International Tropical Timber Council.

In a statement delivered by TRAFFIC’s Chen Hin Keong at the conclusion of the event, CSAG highlighted the “unique challenges and issues” facing small and medium-sized forest enterprises and community forestry, including requirements for strict traceability and proper documentation. These are compounded by low levels of skills in and awareness of sustainable harvesting, as well as additional costs, among many other challenges, “all of which are affected by low levels of local control and transparency, which raises risks of corruption and illegality, while marginalizing communities from the process and the benefit”.

The rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are unclear in many areas, according to the CSAG statement, “obstructing fair and equitable discussions and negotiations”. Moreover, “the involvement of women in formal operations is rarely at the decision-making level, and their access to financing is even further removed from their actual needs”. Mr Chen concluded the CSAG statement by urging Council members to engage closely with the representatives of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women’s groups present at the session.

To read a summary of Trade and Markets Day click here and here to access the presentations made during the CSAG event.

The Civil Society Advisory Group Panel during the Trade and Markets Day held during the 59th session of the International Tropical Timber Council. Photo: Nonthaphat Saetan/ITTO