ATIBT and UNIBOIS federation are strongly involved in the drafting of legislative texts: draft-law, on Forest Regime, decree « fixing conditions for the management and use of forests », Manual of procedures for Non-observance of the law and penalties.
The Congolese government wants to move forward with the APV / FLEGT process. It embarked on this process in 2008 and signed a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) on 1 March 2013. Since then, the country and its partner the European Union have been involved in the implementation of the VPA, in particular with the installation of the Cellule of Forest Legality and Traceability (CLFT) and the development of a IT Legality Verification System (SIVL). Congo and the European Union hope to operationalize the FLEGT licensing system by the end of the decade.
In this context, the UNIBOIS federation has recently carried out a thorough review of the draft legislative texts. Indeed, Congolese forest legislation is largely based on the experiences of the large companies engaged in the process of certification of good forest management. UNIBOIS has, in addition to an analysis of inconsistencies in the texts, identified items with obligations not feasible by small companies. The most important documents analyzed were the new draft law on Forest Regime and the Decree « Setting Conditions for the Management and Use of Forests ». The legislative texts were rewieved thanks to the co-financing of AFD (the project of Technical Support to the VPA / FLEGT of the Congo implemented by FRMi) and the EU (FLEGT-IP project implemented By the ATIBT).
On May 26, UNIBOIS presented the reports of its analyzes during the validation workshop of the preliminary draft law organized by the Ministry of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development (MEFDD). Among the comments on the draft legislation on Forest Regime were important topics such as legal gaps in case approval periods and a new, ill-defined clause on production sharing. UNIBOIS also pointed the difficulties for small forestry companies to obey the requirement of private certification for their forest management. Departmental officials were unwilling to consider UNIBOIS’s comments in the draft legislation. Nevertheless, they retained the reports and expressed the intention to use them to prepare new law enforcement texts.
In June, the CLFT visited the various departments of Congo to present the Handbook of procedures for non-compliance with the law and sanctions. This document is a key document in the legality verification system, and it will have a direct influence on the delivery of certificates of legality and FLEGT licenses. A first reading of this complex document by a technical support mission of the ATIBT, identified problems of definition and inconsistencies.
In order to make legislative documents reliable and feasible, and to help the government move forward in the FLEGT process, forestry companies will call on forest experts and auditors to make proposals for improvements to the document. Given the importance of the document and the large volume of text to be analyzed, the companies in Northern and Southern Congo joined forces to ask the MEFDD to postpone a national consultation workshop of the Manual.
We continue to follow with great interest the evolution of these two documents that are crucial to the good governance of the Congolese forest.
The APV / FLEGT process: a key instrument for the private sector
The APV / FLEGT process is a very important tool for the private sector to combat unfair competition from illegal logging companies and to operate in a healthy working environment. These are the reasons why the private sector of the timber industry wishes not only to advance on the VPA roadmap, but also to ensure that the legal texts, the legality grid and the legality checking system are realistic and financially applicable. Because if documents related to the VPA / FLEGT are not feasible by all, they risk excluding some of the actors and / or having an inverse effect and increasing the share of the informal sector in the timber trade .