IIED long read: Finding a green path for China and Africa?



Chinese companies are spreading over Africa’s land. Chinese loggers, miners, farmers and traders, and multimillion-dollar infrastructural investments are fast becoming a feature across the continent. Some of them gobble up forest and woodland. Some bring huge benefits to African economies. Some do both. All of them are changing Africa.



“Fifteen years ago, I may have been the first Chinese person to explore the forest in northern Mozambique. I was building a Chinese restaurant and had come in contact with the beautiful local wood. I fell in love with the local trees and decided to dedicate my life to forestry. I started my own timber company and called it Mr Forest… There have been good times and bad, it has not been easy, but I consider myself a very good contributor to this country.”



China’s massively ambitious Belt and Road Initiative – its ‘silk road for the twenty-first century’ – is pushing a wave of state-backed and private financing for infrastructure projects deep into the lands and rural communities of developing countries. Potentially the biggest infrastructure project the world has ever seen, China’s initiative will have big consequences for African forests and the communities living in them. More Chinese companies in various shapes and sizes, doing business with Africa’s natural resources, are likely to follow pioneers like Mr Zheng. So, a shared understanding about what is really going on is urgently needed – especially among those in China and Africa who can influence the prospects for sustainability of these developments. Behind the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and big headlines about China-Africa cooperation, there are winners and losers, individual lives and trails in the forest... Read more...


To read...


Meet Mr Forest – a short film about Fei Zheng and his company, Mr Forest, which processes timber for export to China from its base in northern Mozambique. Mr Forest sets an example of responsible Chinese investment in Africa’s forests – as it pursues local value-addition, decent employment, more efficient wood use and a greater concern for long-term forest sustainability.



China’s Investment, Africa’s Forest– a short film that tells the story of the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, which has established itself as a key mechanism to link Chinese and African stakeholder to dialogue about forest governance, and a forum for projects aiming to generate evidence, strengthen capacity and dialogue, and improve policy and investment practice by Chinese companies in African forest land use.



Towards legal and sustainable investments by China in Africa’s forests (2018) Research report



China in Mozambique's forests. A review of issues and progress for livelihoods and sustainability (2018) Research report .

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