The first network to promote business links between producers of responsible forest products in Vietnam and concerned buyers around the world has been launched.

WWF has joined forces with Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to create the Vietnam Forest & Trade Network (VFTN) which was unveiled at the Ho Chi Minh City International Furniture and Handicraft Fair 2005.

VFTN is a division of the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), WWF’s global initiative to eliminate illegal logging and improve forest management.

The GFTN facilitates trade links between companies committed to responsible forestry, creating market conditions that help conserve forests while providing benefits for businesses and the people who depend on them.

Vietnam is the 24th FTN to join the network now active in nearly 30 consumer and producer nations throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and thee US.

More than 400 companies have committed to responsible forest management and purchasing of forest products including IKEA, Carrefour and B&Q.

Vietnamese exports of wood products have tripled since the mid-1990s, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the country.

More than 1,200 companies are involved in timber processing in Vietnam and they require around two million m3 of wood per year. However, timber imports are needed to feed the industry and there are fears this could lead to the destruction of forests in other nations.

The VFTN will play a valuable role in helping processors find legal and sustainable sources of wood. It will also help forest managers work towards credible certification and facilitate links with a global network of responsible buyers.