The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has teamed up with big-box retailer IKEA to launch a new initiative aimed at promoting the sustainable management of forest plantations and empowering forest-reliant communities in Viet Nam.

The joint effort – rolled out earlier this morning with the signing of a cooperation agreement – will see the two partners undertake an initial analysis to evaluate options for advancing forest certification schemes and sustainable forest management in the Southeast Asian country’s northern regions.

“Millions of people rely on forests for their food and incomes, and certification schemes can offer them a tool for safeguarding their interests and preserving their forests, as well as fairer access to new markets,” FAO’s Assistant-Director General for Forestry, Eduardo Rojas-Briales, said in a press release.

According to the UN food agency, certification can also provide an additional mechanism for monitoring the sustainability of forest management and for tracing timber and other forest products through supply chains before they are used in a wide-range of products, including furniture.

Mr. Rojas-Briales noted, however, that certifications often pose “special challenges” to small-growers and communities for whom the cost of the certification process may be too high.

As a result, the planned IKEA-FAO joint venture will explore options and barriers to effective forest certification, including assessing local legal and regulatory frameworks and the quality of local forest resource assessments; locating communities and producer organizations that could potentially benefit from participating in a certification scheme to access IKEA supply chains; and identifying barriers to the certification process and issues which have been or are currently hindering it.

The initial study will also probe the potential for scaling up and replicating the initiative elsewhere.

“We are glad to be partnering with IKEA to look at how hurdles to forest certification can be overcome, with the wellbeing of forest communities featuring front-and-centre,” added Mr. Rojas-Briales.

via UN News Centre