Wood is the main raw material for furnishings. With more forests than ever being closed for logging, the security of wood supplies is a current hot topic.

The China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) could become the largest free trade agreement in the world. It aims to reduce barriers for trade and investment flows among 10 Southeast Asian countries and their six free trade agreement partners including Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand; according to Eco Business. Together, these 16 countries account for about half the global population and produce around 30% of world output. However the RCEP is missing a critical component; the protections for forests which could lead to deforestation and illegal logging.

Forests comprise one-sixth of world forest area and one-fourth of the trade value of global forest products in 2015 and are a huge driver of economies In Southeast Asia with up to 70 million people relying on forests for their livelihoods, nutrition and food security. Will China champion forest conservation? China is a major proponent of the RCEP and is also the world’s largest processor and trader of forest products. While China has demonstrated its commitment nationally to sustainable forest management and legal forest products in recent years the RCEP is a great opportunity for the country to take more responsibility in global forest governance.

In related news, Forestry Corporation NSW has issued a response in relation to controversy surrounding current and upcoming logging operations in Tarkeeth State Forest; Roses Creek State Forest and Oakes State Forest on the North Coast. Source: Coffs Coast Advocate. A number of protests have been taking place with many concerned over issues including ‘aggressive’ harvesting methods and the impact on NSW’s koalas. A Forestry NSW spokesperson said Tarkeeth State Forest contains around 850 hectares of timber plantations that were planted on farmland during the 1960s-70s for timber production. In 2012, more than 100 hectares of plantation were harvested and replanted and Forestry Corporation is harvesting and replanting another 600 hectares over several years.

The spokesperson added they take the concerns of those opposed to the logging ‘seriously’, having gone above and beyond the requirements of the regulations for plantation harvesting. Dean Anderson, General Manager of the Hardwood Forests Division refuted claims by the North-East Forest Alliance that the logging on the north coast would remove protection of koalas. “The areas of State forest available for harvesting make up just 4% of the 23 million hectares of forested land in NSW and these forests are critical for providing renewable regrowth timber for our industry while also supporting significant koala populations.