Promoting Sustainable and Responsible Trade Promoted to Wood Processing SMEs

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Vietnam


Asia is now experiencing the world’s fastest growing economic development. Rapid growth in both economy and population is causing many negative impacts that pose a challenge to numerous countries including China, India and Vietnam. The steadily increasing demand for natural resources, which this booming development requires, is putting pressure on valuable and threatened forests - annual loss of forest area in Asia is now estimated to be one million hectares.

The project “Sustainable and Responsible Trade Promoted to Wood Processing SMEs through Forest and Trade Networks in China, India and Vietnam” (SWITCH) aims to help SME (small and medium enterprise) wood processors to build their capacity for responsible sourcing and production of forest products with funding from the European Union.


Vietnam imports 80% of its timber and has experienced enormous growth in the furniture and flooring sectors within the last decade. Within the last 5 years Vietnam has played an increasing role as an importer, processor and exporter of timber products for the European and US markets. Much of the timber that is transferred through Vietnam is acquired from unverified illegal or unsustainable sources.

The forests of the Mekong - both in Vietnam and Laos - are vanishing as the industry employs unsustainable practices and sources illegal timber to meet growing international demand. As a result, Mekong communities receive little revenue from the industry and lose the forest resources on which they depend.

However, in Vietnam, recent changes in land use rights have given 1.1 million households over 3.1 million ha of forest and forest land. By increasing the number of SMEs applying sustainable production techniques and promoting the use of credibly certified timber on these privately owned Vietnamese forests, this project will provide valuable economic support to these households, and in doing so, create opportunities for many to move out of poverty. Although sustainable production is currently promoted by the Vietnam Forest Trade Network (FTN), there is a small membership base.

The project will expand the membership of FTN in Vietnam with strategically selected SMEs, significantly up-scaling current impact.

The project will also support Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiatives targeting weak policy frameworks in the country, ensuring environmental regulations are promoted regionally to support sustainable consumption and production methodologies, with an emphasis on restrictions on illegally harvested or traded wood. It will complement the aims of all three governments in their efforts to promote sustainable forest management and the development of responsible forest products processing industries.


The long term objective of this project is that by 2020 sustainable consumption and production in forest product markets worldwide will be predominated by best practice, leading to conservation of forests and supporting truly sustainable development in the 3 targeted countries.

The specific project objective is that by 2010, at least 600 SMEs in the wood processing sectors of China, India and Vietnam are applying sustainable production techniques and are providing certified sustainable forest products to national and international markets.


1. Identification of SMEs; awareness raising; development of baseline appraisal reports and action plans; monitoring and evaluation; communication of best practice implementation; support policy development.
2. Development and provision of country specific advice services on sources, materials, and product labelling and trade links; training workshops and seminars; set up coordination website; exposure visits to successful projects; business exposure visits connect SME producers and buyers.
3. Targeted media campaign on sustainable development and consumption; publications; use of SWITCH Asia Facility.