The ASEAN-German Regional Forest Programme for Southeast Asia (ReFOP), commissioned on 1 April 2003, is a development cooperation project between the Federal Republic of Germany and ASEAN. The programme aims to facilitate communication and cooperation among the ASEAN Member Countries in order to implement the Strategic Forestry Plan as part of the Vientiane Action Programme.
Initial phase of ReFOP project was set for 2 years with the objective to support the ASEAN Secretariat and AMCs in enhancing regional cooperation in forestry, particularly in timber certification, establishment of forest clearing house mechanism, strategic monitoring, regional positioning and resource mobilisation through forest trust fund mechanism. The Programme was extended for one more year, and was officially completed in July 2006.
The 4-year ReFOP phase II (August 2006 – July 2010) with revised objectives, project management structure and targeted outputs was agreed in principle by ASEAN in August 2005. The official agreement on the implementation of ReFOP phase II is expected to be finalised and signed soon.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF REFOP PHASE I
The achievements of ReFOP phase I for the period from April 2003 to July 2006 are as follows:
- A web-based communication platform entitled “ASEAN Forest Clearing House Mechanism” was established as part of promoting information and knowledge management in forestry. Three rounds of e-discussion were organised on the issues of timber tracking, national forest policy development and forest certification.
- Technical expertise and logistic support was provided in developing “ASEAN Criteria and Indicators for sustainable management of tropical forest” and “ASEAN Guidelines for implementation of proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel and Forum on Forests”. ASEAN’s performance in terms of forest policy coordination and cooperation has substantially improved.
- The introduction of OECD-like peer review process was agreed, in principle, by ASOF and 3 member countries have voluntarily agreed to undertake the peer review trial.
- The specific inputs for developing phased approach to forest certification have also progressed particularly in defining legality of timber.
- The formation of an integrated Forestry Desk under the Natural Resources Unit of the ASEAN Secretariat, in place of the Project Management Unit, was perceived as a significant progress towards institutional sustainability.