FLEGT action plan

As early as 2003, the European Union developed the FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) action plan, which provides for a set of measures to exclude timber and timber products that are illegally sourced from the European market, to improve the supply of timber from legal harvesting and to increase the demand for legal products.

This action plan consists of two main components: the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA), and the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR). The FLEGT action plan was subject to an evaluation commissioned by the European Union that was completed in 2016.

ATIBT is implementing two projects related to the FLEGT Action Plan and the REDD+ system (through 2019).

The first FLEGT-REDD+ project : entitled «Integration of the Central and West African tropical timber sector into the FLEGTand REDD+ system» (lien vers ce projet)

 The second FLEGT-IP project :  entitled «capacity enhancement of professional associations in Central and Western Africa’s private forest sector to allow a better integration of the latter in the FLEGT action plan» (lien vers ce projet)

ATIBT also carried out early 2017 with ONFi a study on REDD+ opportunities in the private forest sector. (lien vers cette étude)

Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs)

The Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are trade agreements that are concluded between the European Union’s exporting countries and that aim to establish a system ensuring of the legal harvesting of timber in the signatory countries.

To date, 5 countries in Central and Western Africa have signed a VPA with the European Union (EU) :

Cameroon: VPA in effect since 2011
Central African Republic: VPA in effect since 2012
Republic of Congo: VPA in effect since 2013
Ghana: VPA in effect since 2009
Liberia: VPA in effect since 2013

Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo have started negotiations with the EU to sign a VPA.

The VPAs aim to improve the governance of producer States, through the use of various tools :

a legality verification system
a traceability system
independent auditors
independent observers (optional)

Ultimately, FLEGT permits will be issued for timber. At the end of 2016, no Congo basin signatory country was in a position to issue FLEGT licenses. Indonesia is currently the only country that has issued FLEGT licenses since November 2016

European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) and due diligence

This regulation requires market makers to apply «due diligence» and to be able to prove its implementation. This due diligence consists in the application of a system of measures and procedures that aim to reduce as much as possible the risk of marketing timber or timber products derived from illegal harvests

Other initiatives to combat illegal timber trade

Like the European Union, other timber using countries have chosen to legislate against the illegal timber trade : the US since May 2008 with the Lacey Act (Which  dates from the early 20th century), and Australia has just adopted the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act, which went into effect at the end of 2014. Like the EUTR, these laws prohibit the marketing of illegal timber harvested in violation of the laws of the relevant country.