Subject: EFI EU FLEGT News, March/April 2012
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Bimonthly news on common efforts of the EU and its partner countries and institutions to combat illegal logging and to implement the EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT), compiled by EFI in cooperation with the FAO ACP-FLEGT Support Programme and the European Commission.

FLEGT Voluntary Partnerships Agreements (VPAs) – News from Africa
FLEGT VPAs – News from Asia
FLEGT Related Dialogue
FLEGT and Demand-side Measures
Open posts
FLEGT and Cross-Cutting Issues: Studies - Meeting Reports
FLEGT Updates: News – Upcoming Events
Updates from ACP- FLEGT Support Programme
 

FLEGT Voluntary Partnerships Agreements (VPAs) – News from Africa:


Cameroon

The first Joint Implementation Committee meeting took place on March 6 and was preceded and followed by technical discussions. Issues covered included institutional arrangements relating to the Comité National de Suivi (CNS), the multi-stakeholder committee charged with the follow up of the implementation of the Agreement, the ongoing legal reform process and resulting amendment/modification of national legality grids, experience gained during a traceability pilot project and the role and scope of Independent Auditing.

The ongoing legal reform process includes a variety of areas - internal timber market, community and communal forests, environmental and social aspects, integration of commitments made in international agreements and industrialisation of the timber sector - as foreseen in the VPA. Civil Society reps at the meeting volunteered to take forward actions on raising awareness and improving accessibility of forest sector information in the public domain. The meeting agreed on a detailed work plan for 2012 which is also reflected in the Presidents action plan for the new government. The Aide Memoire and Work Plan will be available on EU and the Ministry of Forestry’s (MINFOF) websites as well as on the EU FLEGT Facility website.


EFI’s EU FLEGT Facility VPA team visited Cameroon in February in preparation for the meeting and met with a wide range of Government actors, Private sector and Civil Society Organisations. The team supported preparations for the JIC meeting, worked with the MINFOF on a plan to consult VPA stakeholders on draft legal reform options and helped develop a timetable for implementation of the VPA, including the key governance commitments outlined in Annex 7.

 

The second JIC meeting is expected to take place in June 2012.


 

Ghana

On 15 March 2012 the Government of Ghana and the European Union (EU) reaffirmed their commitment to effective implementation of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) at the 4th meeting of the VPA Joint Monitoring and Review Mechanism (JMRM) in Accra.

The Ghana-EU JMRM oversees development of the systems needed to implement the agreement and to follow up on commitments made by both parties. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the development of a framework for monitoring the impacts of the Agreement and it was agreed that a framework will be prepared in time for the next joint meeting. Ghana highlighted advances in the development of a workable system for verifying the legality of timber and reported that it will soon announce the new service provider who will take forward this work at national scale. In addition, the process to recruit an Independent Monitor is completed and should be contracted shortly.

The 2010 and 2011 Annual Reports on the VPA implementation will be published by the end of April 2012. It is expected that the next series of meetings of the JMRM will be held in Accra in September 2012.


It is expected that Ghana will begin to issue FLEGT licenses for legal timber by March 2013, in time for the implementation of the European Union Timber Regulation.


See the full press release here. The Aide Memoire will be available on the EU and Forestry Commission websites.


Liberia

Representatives from the governments of Liberia and the European Union met in Monrovia, Liberia, 26-30 March to prepare for expected ratification of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) later this year. Representatives from the timber industry, representatives of civil society organizations, and technical experts also participated.

Participants reviewed steps to ratification of the VPA for both the European Union and Liberia, as well as progress in the implementation of the VPA.

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Acting Managing Director of the Forestry Development Agency Moses Wogbeh (left), the Hon. Minister of Agriculture Florence Chenoweth and Head of the EU Delegation Attilio Pacifici converse during a break in the official meeting held at the Chamber of Commerce in Monrovia, Liberia, 28 March 2012. © Edith Johnson, EU FLEGT Facility, EFI.


The Aide Memoire and 2012 work plan that sets out detailed and time-bound actions to prepare for implementation will be available on the Government of Liberia’s website and on the EC website.


The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and the Republic of Liberia that sets out the definition for what constitutes legal timber and other wood products and outlines the assurance system that will be used to monitor compliance with that definition. This VPA will apply this legality standard to all wood products.


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Signing of the Aide Memoire by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Florence Chenoweth and Head of the EU Delegation Attilio Pacifici in Monrovia, Liberia, March 2012. © Morne Van der Linde, EU FLEGT Facility, EFI.

 


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FLEGT VPAs – News from Asia:


Malaysia

Negotiations of the Malaysian VPA have recently been reactivated with the development of a phased approach to an agreement. The idea would be to cover the imports of timber products into the EU from Peninsula Malaysia and Sabah only in a first phase; with timber supplies from Sarawak to be included at a later date. In this context, the first Joint Expert Meeting (JEM) involving experts from Malaysia and EFI’s EU FLEGT Facility was organized on 6-7 March in Kuala Lumpur. The JEM worked on the descriptions of legal requirements to be included in the TLAS and related verification procedures, control of the timber supply chains and mechanisms to strengthen coordination between government agencies responsible for implementation.


A series of formal negotiation sessions and technical meetings are scheduled for the coming months.


Vietnam

In early March, members of the Viet Nam Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) Working Group participated in an Indonesian study tour to learn about the design and implementation of the national TLAS system. Initial meetings with the Ministry of Forestry, private sector representatives, civil society groups and audit companies provided an overview of Indonesia’s SVLK, which was complemented by visits to a community forestry cooperative as well as primary and secondary processing companies in Java.


To build on insights gained in Indonesia, on 15-16 March a follow up TLAS learning event was organised in Viet Nam. Members of the TLAS Working Group visited export wood product manufacturers in Binh Duong Province of Viet Nam, to learn from examples of sourcing and wood tracking controls applied within the national industry. This was followed by a Brainstorming Workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, providing the Working Group with an opportunity to discuss ideas and concerns offered by enterprises, auditors and local supply chain experts.


On 20 March, VNFOREST Standing Office for FLEGT hosted a meeting for 15 CSOs, which included a broad spectrum of organisations from industry associations to rural development NGOs. Awareness of FLEGT differed within the group, with some of the organisations only just beginning to follow the process. The meeting provided an opportunity to identify how CSOs could engage in the process, and what support needs they may have. The meeting represented a constructive step towards broadening and strengthening civil society participation in the ongoing VPA preparation process.

 


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FLEGT Related Dialogue:


Guyana

The Government of Guyana has requested the opening of negotiations on FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union. Under the VPA only timber verified to be legal under Guyana's legislation will be able to be exported to the European Union.
The government formally expressed its intention to join the FLEGT initiative to the EU delegation in Guyana in Georgetown on Thursday, 8 March, in a statement by Robert Persaud, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment.


“Guyana is looking forward to the shaping of an agreement that takes into consideration the national context, efforts undertaken to date, with clear objectives of adding value to forest governance, forest industry development and sustainability of the forest sector,“ stated Minister Persaud in the official press release.


The Government of Guyana said it has already engaged in stakeholder consultations, forest monitoring and legality assessment as part of their broader initiatives in forest governance, as outlined in a media release of 9 March. These activities have been part of ongoing efforts to strengthen forest governance, with the support of the Government of Norway, since December 2009.

“Last year we exported close to US$7M in forestry products to Europe ... so if we want to maintain and even enlarge our forest market share in Europe this is also a necessary requirement,” said Minister Persaud, as reported by Demerara News portal.

The Government of Guyana first expressed interest in FLEGT in December 2009 to the EU.
VPAs promote better enforcement of national forest laws and an inclusive approach involving civil society and the private sector.

 

 

Bolivia

A FLEGT information dissemination mission was conducted in La Paz and Santa Cruz between 20-29 March. The objectives of the mission were to assess the current forest sector situation in Bolivia, to inform local stakeholders (public and private sector and civil society) about FLEGT and its components, and to evaluate the possibilities of further FLEGT-related activities during 2012.

 

Colombia

A mission conducted by the EFI FLEGT team took place 19-24 February in four different cities of Colombia (Bogota, Ibague, Pereira and Cali). Meetings were held with a wide range of actors from central government authorities, regional environmental authorities, private sector, academia and civil society. The mission objectives were to present FLEGT and its components and to assess the potential for development of FLEGT-related activities with local actors in Colombia during 2012.

 

Mexico

CONAFOR, the Mexican institution in charge of Forests, invited EFI to conduct a short mission to Mexico City (13-15 March) to present the FLEGT Action Plan to various stakeholders (public and private sector). CONAFOR is currently assessing the potential of integrating some of the FLECT Action Plan components into their future activities.

 


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FLEGT and Demand-side Measures:


European Union Timber Regulation

On 23 February the European Commission adopted the Commission delegated regulation on the procedural rules for the recognition and withdrawal of recognition of Monitoring Organisations as provided for in Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council, laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the European market. The Regulation has been notified to the European Parliament and to the Council as well as to national Parliaments.


It will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union upon expiry of a period of two months extendable by additional two months, during which the Legislator has the right to express objections in accordance with Article 290 (2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The Regulation has been made public in the register of documents of the Commission as well as on the webpage of Directorate General for the Environment.


Updated TFT Briefing notes on EU Timber Regulation and EU FLEGT Action Plan

TFT has published updated versions of its EU Timber Regulation and the EU FLEGT Action Plan briefing notes.

The EU Timber Regulation note explains a number of concepts mentioned in the Regulation, including the Due Diligence System, monitoring organisations and competent authorities. It also elaborates on the entry into force date, who is liable under the Regulation, which products will be covered and what the penalties are. Read the full briefing note here.

The EU FLEGT Action Plan note gives an overview of the Plan and its different measures. It explains the Voluntary Partnership Agreements and how they relate to the EU Timber Regulation and other measures under the FLEGT Action Plan. Furthermore, the note describes the progress in the different VPA countries. Read the full briefing note here.

These and other relevant briefing notes can also be downloaded from TFT’s website.


Report on Australia´s Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011 published

The Australian Senate Standing Committee for Rural Affairs and Transport has published the results of an inquiry into Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011 (the Bill).

The report looks into the background and context of the Bill, as well as its provisions. This is followed by a list of conclusions and recommendations, both from the committee as well as from several political parties and Senators.

The committee concludes that there is a broad support for the Bill. In addition, the committee notes that the markets for wood and wood-based products are in the process of rapid change. Australia's housing and construction, interior fit-out and secondary wood processing industries are increasingly dependent on imported timber and wood-based raw materials. There has also been an increase in the import of manufactured products of uncertain origin.

At the same time the report notes that timber-exporting countries face a number of complex challenges in ensuring the legality of their exported timber. As such, the committee is of the view that consultations on this issue should be undertaken through continued bilateral cooperation with timber-exporting countries in the region, and through multilateral engagement on forestry through existing forums. This will be complemented by Australia's non-regulatory capacity building programmes aimed at combating illegal logging.

Overall the committee recommends that the Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011 be passed. These and other relevant findings on the development of the Bill can be found here.

 


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Open posts:


EFI is looking for two experts for its EU REDD Facility

  • a Senior expert in development cooperation and finance to reinforce the EU REDD Facility on REDD+ financing-related issues and assist the REDD+ Team Leader in the development of the EU REDD Facility in this field and 
  • a REDD+ expert to lead activities carried out in some of the EU REDD Facility focal countries as well as the development of the EU REDD Facility’s expertise in thematic fields such as governance, synergies between REDD+ and FLEGT, agricultural or other drivers of deforestation, REDD+ safeguards.

Interested candidates are requested to send an application letter and CV by 30 April 2012, using the online application forms: Senior expert in development cooperation and finance, REDD+ Expert.
If it is not possible for you to apply online please send your application to: Human Resources Office, EFI, email: efi.hr(at)efi.int.

Go to www.euredd.efi.int for more information about the EU REDD Facility.

 


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FLEGT and Cross-Cutting Issues: Studies - Meeting Reports:


World Bank reports that illegal logging generates $10-15bn a year around the world

The World Bank published a report entitled “Justice for Forests” which describes the relationship between illegal logging operations and organised crime. According to the report, pursuing loggers through the criminal justice system has worked in a number of countries. The Bank further states that every two seconds, an area equivalent to a football pitch of the world´s most valuable forests are being cleared by illegal loggers.

A BBC article on the report describes the impacts of illegal logging and suggests that illegal logging must be ´taken care of the same way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering´.

A number of countries have already successfully started to take stronger legal measures to fight illegal logging. The World Bank report should encourage other countries to do the same.

The BBC article can be found here and the World Bank report here.


2nd High Level Market Dialogue in Jakarta

On 20 March, the Indonesian Exporters Association (GPEI) in cooperation with PT. Mutu Hijau Indonesia, organised a 2nd High Level Market Dialogue with the theme of “Boosting the Export of Indonesian Legal Timber Products to Europe, the USA, Japan and China”. The event was co-organised by EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia team and the European Timber Trade Federation, with additional support from a wide range of government agencies, companies and research institutes.

The meeting, attended by more than 200 participants, highlighted the importance of applying Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system, the SVLK, and the role of a VPA in meeting global regulatory demands. In addition it provided an opportunity for Indonesian and international businesses to discuss the challenges and opportunities for those trading in legal wood products from Indonesia.


FLEGT Workshop in Thailand

A preparatory FLEGT workshop on Timber Flows and stakeholder mapping was held in Bangkok on 16 March. It was organised by the Royal Forest Department of Thailand (RFD) and EFI's EU FLEGT Asia Support Programme and attended by over 120 forest stakeholders. The event was co-chaired by RFD and the EU Delegation, who also presented some background information on FLEGT and the draft results of a national Timber Flow Study. Participants discussed the mapping of forest stakeholders currently being conducted by the Chiang Mai University as one element of the national VPA preparations. 




The Timber Flow Study, which looked at Thailand's control of timber, describes the main timber supply chains and identifies possible challenges. In a following plenary session chaired by the Kasetsart University, four members of the Royal Government of Thailand and private sector associations responded to questions the study, the role of stakeholders, FLEGT and general forest and trade related matters. It became apparent that the Thai forestry stakeholders present at the event strongly support the Royal Thai Government in its efforts to commence VPA negotiations with the EU in the near future.


Malaysian National inception Workshop on REDD+

A two-day REDD+ inception workshop was organised on the 13-14 February by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia (NRE), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malaysia.

The main goal of the workshop was to build capacity amongst Malaysia´s decision makers on the issues related to ´Reducing Emissions on Deforestation and Forest Degradation´ (REDD+) in Malaysia.

The objectives were to expose decision makers to issues related to REDD+, sharing experiences and lessons learnt from different countries and agencies, and to identify a way forward for REDD+ in Malaysia.

The workshop was attended by members of the NRE, EPU, UNDP, FAO, Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, respective state forestry departments, the state planning units, relevant ministries, academia and NGOs.

All presentations can be found online at: www.undp.org.my.

 


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FLEGT Updates: News – Upcoming Events:


Thai government puts forest rehabilitation and preservation on national agenda

Thailand is working to counter deforestation and has decided to allocate 3 billion baht to regenerate 7 million Rai (1,120,000 Hectares) of forest over the next five years.

Senior officials from all relevant Ministries met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the Forest Department. It was decided that the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the Royal Forest Department will be responsible for the reforestation efforts. Activities will include the recovery of the forest ecology system, constructing 11,000 man-made water retention areas and 19,000 dykes, along with forest preservation and protection programmes.

To read the article about Thailand’s reforestation efforts in the Bangkok Post, click here.

 

Deadline for abstracts for conference on llegal logging and legality verification in Denmark

The Institute of Resource Economics, the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with EFI and the Yale program on Forest Policy and Governance will organize a conference on Illegal logging and legality verification - the FLEGT / VPA as new modes of governance 6-7 December in the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The deadline for abstracts is 15 May.


The conference will discuss a number of theoretical and empirical issues related to the practice of illegal logging and trade in illegal tropical timber as well as measures to counteract such practices. Although the main focus will be on the EU modalities, the organizers welcome presentations on other related initiatives as well.

 


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Updates from ACP- FLEGT Support Programme:

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Ivory Coast towards concluding a VPA?

With support from the ACP-FLEGT Programme, the Ministry of Environment, and Waters and Forests in Ivory Coast has recently completed a project to raise awareness on the FLEGT / VPA process, in Abidjan and the provinces. The awareness raising exercise reached over 900 people including members of all stakeholder groups including the private sector, civil society or government agencies. Stakeholder feedback was unanimous; expressing a desire for the country to launch formal VPA negotiation with the EU.

The Ministry was the first to clearly express its desire to benefit from the VPA and work to improve governance in the forestry sector, revisit its forest policy especially it’s Forest Code, and fight against illegal logging, which today represents the majority of the logging in Ivory Coast. Furthermore, the private sector deeply supports an early commitment by Ivory Coast to this process, as it would provide a response to the requirements imposed by the EU Timber Regulation, the latter directly affecting 70% of timber products exported from Ivory Coast. In this respect, a national workshop is scheduled in June 2012 to further discuss the options for pursuing FLEGT processes.


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© Marc Vandenhaute, FAO ACP FLEGT Programme


Internal audits on legality in Central African Republic forest companies

In the Central African Republic, ACP FLEGT is supporting WWF to provide technical assistance to the private sector to review their ability to comply with the future requirements of the VPA and EU timber regulation. The six largest national forest products export companies were invited to participate in a theoretical and practical training on the content of the VPA and, more specifically, the functioning of the Timber Legality Assurance System.

The participants spent a week in Bangui, working on the theoretical aspects including the content of the legality grid then were split in two groups in two forest sites to complete a field test the legality assurance system. These internal audits have assessed, indicator by indicator, the compliance level of the pilot companies and have developed for each of them an action plan with corrective measures to comply with the VPA requirements. This exercise was particularly appreciated by forest sector companies as it allowed them to implement an Agreement which until now was still very theoretical.

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© Marc Vandenhaute, FAO ACP FLEGT Programme



Training in Project Cycle Management in the Republic of Congo

In the Republic of Congo, the ACP-FLEGT Programme organized a Project Cycle Management training for the 5 Programme beneficiaries and the institutions involved in the FLEGT process. The training, held from the 14 to 21 of February, in Brazzaville, aimed to strengthen local institutional capacity to manage projects and included modules on financial management, communication, human resources manage and management of the project cycle from the identification of projects to the final assessment of impacts.

This training was a significant success with the participation of 15 persons from the 5 ACP FLEGT supported projects and other organizations. The participants are now better equipped in project design and management and gained more knowledge on the FLEGT process, which in the long term will enable these institutions to better participate in the implementation of the VPA.

Two additional project cycle trainings are scheduled in the coming months in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Cameroon.

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© Sophie Lemaitre, FAO ACP FLEGT Programme


Belize, Development and Conservation for Friends (FCD)

The Chiquibul Forest of Belize, an important natural and anthropological reserve, is consistently degraded through excessive and unchecked illegal logging. Friends for Conservation and Development, through the support of the ACP FLEGT programme, have mounted a coordinated effort joining law enforcement, trans-boundary policy level action with Guatemala and education for local communities. Recent studies have demonstrated that illegal logging damaged 199 trees in only 40 test plots and contributes to a nearly 7 million dollar illegal logging network.

Project support has been used to train 2 multi-agency law enforcement teams that patrol the forests for illegal logging, while the project and park managers have opened dialogue with the Guatemalan authorities to address timber smuggling network. 

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 © Rafael Manzanero, Friends for Conservation and Development


Ghana, Forest Research Institute

Since Ghana signed and ratified the FLEGT/ Voluntary Partnership Agreement in 2009, the Forestry Commission has been working with industry and civil society organizations to implement the Agreement. The ACP FLEGT programme is supporting 5 projects through the Commission and NGOs that support the sensitization and training of community members on the VPA and forest law enforcement issues. The Forest Research Institute (FORIG), in with support of RMSC staff, has recently completed a series of community trainings to specifically sensitize on issues such as forest policy, laws and agreements relevant to the VPA process. The project has impacted communities by clarifying the roles, responsibilities and legal requirements of communities, timber contractors and government agencies. Specifically, communities are increasingly empowered through greater knowledge of their rights and benefit under the Social Responsibility Agreement.


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© Dominic Blay, Forest Research Institute


Please see the ACP FLEGT programme website at
www.fao.org/forestry/acp-flegt for more information.

 


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If you would like to submit information on EU FLEGT related activities or editorial comments please send them to info(at)euflegt.efi.int

The EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process was initiated in 2003 with the publication of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. It addresses governance reforms and capacity building, supported by actions aimed at reducing the consumption of illegally harvested timber in the EU and ultimately major consumer markets elsewhere in the world. Further related documents: Council Conclusions (2003), Council Regulation on FLEGT licensing scheme (2005)

The European Forest Institute's(EFI) EU FLEGT Facility supports the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan and is funded by the European Union, and the Governments of Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The Facility currently conducts activities in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union

Further information: http://www.euflegt.efi.int and http://www.efi.int/portal/projects/flegt/