The Australian government has announced an AUD $6 million fund for phase two.
The Australian Government’s Illegal Logging Regional Capacity Building Partnership has announced an AUD $6 million fund for phase two of RAFT (Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade Programme), to be implemented during the 12 months of 2013.
RAFT works to protect the forests of central Asia by eradicating illegal and destructively sourced timber from global supply chains. It brings together the resources of partners including TFT, who work at different points of supply chains across six countries: China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. This new phase will allow all partners to create an even wider and longer lasting impact by bringing more areas under responsible forest management.
RAFT was originally set up as a five-year programme (2006-2011), funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Through RAFT 1, around 1.3 million hectares of tropical forest certified as sustainably managed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), with a further two million on the way. 
TFT is building the demand for legal and certified timber by working with wood suppliers in Indonesia, Lao PDR, China and Vietnam to track their timber supply, ensure national and international legality requirements are met, and achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management (FM) and chain of custody (CoC) certification. A number of natural forest and tree plantation projects will be supported, as will wood product processing-manufacturing factories. Projects include the community forest initiative Luang Prabang Teak Programme in Laos, which has helped farmers establish a viable wood trading business in which their income has doubled and their processing costs have been cut by a third.
RAFT is significant for Australia because the country imports almost twice as many timber products than it exports, most of it from Asia. In total, around AUD $4.2 billion worth of wood products enter Australia each year, of which $783.3 million is from China, $342.6 million is from Indonesia and $233 million is from Malaysia.
The Illegal Logging Regional Capacity Building Partnership supports Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Act, which came into effect on 29 November 2012 to outlaw the trade of illegally harvested timber in Australia. This is a similar step to the Lacey Act in the US, and the forthcoming EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which, as of 3 March 2013, outlaws illegal timber being placed on the EU market. TFT has developed its SURE Technology to help companies meet the requirements of the EUTR and bring about greater traceability and transparency in their supply chains.
TFT’s Michael Pescott explains why RAFT also makes sense from a business point of view: “Traceability, legality and responsible-certified management bring not only long-term benefits such as sustainability of soil, water and timber resources, but also more immediate benefits such as reduced illegal activity, increased productivity, worker performance and management efficiency, and improved marketability in terms of price and access.”
As well as TFT, RAFT partners include The Nature Conservancy, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), the Tropical Forest Foundation (TFF), WWF’s Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN) and TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network.
Keep an eye out for the RAFT website, which will be updated in the coming weeks to communicate progress made by partners.
 RAFT; http://www.responsibleasia.org/?page_id=1544
 ABARES 2012, Australian forest and wood products statistics, March and June quarters 2012, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra, November.
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