The objectives of the project were to:
- Improve the understanding of how small forest products enterprises operate in Lao, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Analyse the regulatory obstacles faced by small enterprises and the resulting impacts on their viability and their potential contributors – both economic and environmental – to national economies in Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam.
- To prepare recommendations for relevant policy and regulatory reform in these three countries.
The research methodology for this project was divided into two parts. The first part focused on diagnosing the structure and small-scale (including informal) forest products enterprise value chains. Based on the results of the first part, part two focused on analysing the impact of the existent regulations on small enterprises, and to help national stakeholders prepare solutions recommendations in order to reduce the regulatory burdens on this sector, including possible reform of the current legislation.
Preferred by Nature (formerly known as NEPCon) and Forest Trends joined forces, carried out this highly complex project with inputs from 6 international experts supporting 15 national experts in the four Mekong countries. The research employed a regional framework for understanding small-scale forest product enterprises, including those in the informal sector, and their structure, dynamics, and governance mechanisms, for selected timber value chains (VCs) in each of the four countries – Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Research has examined the source and final destination of wood products in these VCs, i.e. whether they have used imported or domestically sourced wood materials, or were producing/processing for local or export markets.
The project has also analysed gender role in timber VCs, including gender division of labour, assessment of women’s position in the chain and institutional and legal framework facilitating or impeding their participation in VCs. The research has also identified opportunities to strengthen the small forest product enterprise sector, and opportunities to support or enhance women’s engagement in the sector.
The project ran from May 2017 to August 2018 and the outcomes of the project are:
- Recommendations for relevant policy and regulatory reforms in Lao, Thailand and Vietnam. The work supports regional stakeholder groups, networks, processes and dialogues that complement and strengthen the work of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in developing regional forest policy and cooperation on FLEGT.
- Recommendations that address regulatory barriers and other obstacles, including those specific to women, faced by small enterprises in forest product value chains.
- Improved understanding and support mechanisms development in the private sector, and especially among SMEs, that enabled them to comply with changing market requirements.
The outcomes of this work support the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action plan, and contribute to poverty eradication and sustainable forest management in Southeast Asia.