There’s still plenty of scope for veri­ ed sustainable forest management to gain momentum globally, particularly in one of the richest of resources in terms of biodiversity and wider environmental services – the tropical forest. But signi­ cant advances are being made in development of national sustainable forest systems (NSFS) in the tropics. Now a new international collaboration, the Broader Market Recognition Coalition, has formed to promote this globally, the aim to grow consumer market demand for forest products produced under NSFSs to underpin their progress and drive it further. And it’s about to publish its Roadmap.

The door is open for more to join, but the BMRC initially comprises six countries; Indonesia, Cameroon, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Ghana and Guyana. It’s supported by Timber Development UK, with seed funding from the Forest Governance, Markets and Climate programme of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Of­fice.

All founding coalition members are also involved in the EU and UK Forest Governance, Law Enforcement and Trade programme (FLEGT), which supports establishment of timber legality assurance systems in supplier countries, with preferential market access granted to FLEGTlicensed goods. The BMRC is described as drawing on these countries’ experience of FLEGT.

It traces its roots to views expressed by Indonesia and in TDUK’s Tropical Timber Accord, presented at COP26, that insuf­ cient international recognition is given to tropical countries’ efforts to strengthen forest governance and take timber legality and sustainability assurance forward. This in turn can limit market access.

To remedy this, BMRC will set up a ‘robust institutional framework’ to evaluate and endorse member countries’ NSFSs against a number of indicators. Criteria NSFS must meet include that they involve ‘inclusive multistakeholder processes’. They will ensure compliance with national environmental, social and economic legislation and require nationwide observance of their standards. The systems will also involve independent forest monitoring and third party audit and be subject to continuous improvement.

The objective is to introduce labelling for timber and forest products which meet the principles and criteria of Coalition-endorsed NSFS, supported by BMRC promotion.

Backing this up, it will press for establishment of internationally harmonised standards for legal and sustainable forest products in trade regulations and public and private sector procurement which give recognition to BMRC-labelled goods.

The international ­ nance sector is also in the BMRC’s sights. It sees its independent endorsement of member countries’ NSFS as making their timber and other valueadded forest industries more credit worthy and attractive to foreign investment and it will actively cultivate the latter, particularly in SME ‘capacity building’.

The BMRC will additionally be a forum for BMRC members to share knowledge and best practice.

The Coalition’s upcoming Roadmap details its governance structure and its principles and objectives.

At base the BMRC aims to increase global recognition that products resulting from the NSFSs it endorses are ‘sustainable – or advancing to sustainable – contribute to achieving socio-economic goals, and provide for wider environmental and climate bene­fits, such as carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation’.