Subject: EFI EU FLEGT News, October/November 2010
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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 VPAs: News from South America
FLEGT and Demand-side Initiatives
FLEGT and Cross-cutting Issues: Road Shows – Meeting Reports
FLEGT Updates: News Picks - Publications – Upcoming Meetings –Others
Updates from ACP-FLEGT Support Programme: News - Meeting Reports

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


On 6 October, the EU and Cameroon signed a VPA in Brussels. It is foreseen that, from July 2012, all wood products entering the EU from Cameroon will be required to carry a FLEGT licence demonstrating their legal origin. The Agreement was signed by Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and the Belgium Minister Sabine Laruelle, responsible for agriculture, on behalf of the EU and Cameroon’s Minister Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, responsible for forestry and wildlife. The VPA will apply once ratified by both sides and after approval by the European Parliament. Cameroon is Africa’s biggest exporter of tropical hardwood to Europe, and is currently developing its national timber tracking system. Once the system is established, Cameroon intends to ensure legal compliance in timber production for all timber and wood products not only sold to the EU, to non-EU export markets and on the domestic market.
You can view the signing video on the European Commission’s Audiovisuals Service website (published 6 October, 02:58)


Central African Republic (CAR):

The Central African Republic and the EU are close to finalisation of an agreement: a successful final round of official VPA negotiations took place in Brussels on 12-13 October. The meeting included fruitful discussions on the insertion of forest plantations in the VPA Legality Assurance System, the range of information to be made publicly available, accompanying measures for implementation of the agreed timber control system and the calendar of activities covering the period between the VPA initialling and the issuance of the first FLEGT license. Final adjustments are expected to be completed in the next couple of months. The official initialling of the VPA is scheduled to take place in Bangui before the end of the year.


Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC):

On 20-21 October, the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism of DRC, in charge of forests, visited Brussels to open negotiations for a VPA between his country and the EU. He was accompanied by a number of representatives from the Government administration, civil society and the private sector. The objective was to exchange views on the consultation process, forest governance challenges and lessons learned from other FLEGT processes, with a view to preparing the first negotiation session to be held in December in Kinshasa. DRC is the tenth country to enter VPA negotiations (agreements have been signed with Ghana, Cameroon and Congo, and are presently in negotiation with Malaysia, Indonesia, Liberia, CAR, Gabon and Vietnam). DRC has the largest forest area in the Congo Basin, with around 100 million ha of forests. Exports are still limited at around half a million cubic meters per year, of which Europe is the primary consumer, accounting for 80-90% (Sources: COMIFAC, EFI WFSE).



On opening VPA negotiations on 23 September in Libreville, Gabon became the ninth timber producing country to work towards a VPA with the EU. During a high-level ceremony the Gabonese Minister responsible for forests and the Head of the EU Delegation in Gabon signed a joint declaration, confirming the commitment of both parties to tackle illegal logging and address forest governance challenges. At the first official negotiation session, starting on 24 September, Gabon presented its framework for ensuring participation of all stakeholders, and highlighted the country’s main forest governance challenges. Both parties agreed on a roadmap for negotiations which foresees a technical session every month as well as three formal negotiation sessions in Libreville and Brussels. The objective is to conclude negotiations in December 2011.


In mid October, representatives of the EU and Liberia met for a fourth negotiation session in Brussels, discussing, inter alia the Liberian national principles and indicators for defining legality of timber, procedures for the verification of the Legality Definition and chain of custody procedures as part of the Legality Assurance System. Furthermore, the negotiation team talked about a planned assessment of capacity building needs to implement the Legality Assurance System and the VPA. In the run-up to the negotiation session, the Liberian VPA team went to the port in Antwerp to learn more about EU customs procedure and to meet with a timber importer, providing an insight into private sector perspectives on market requirements and compliance with the new EU Illegal Timber Regulation.

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FLEGT VPAs: News from Asia:


As reported by ITTO, in early September the Indonesian Government strengthened measures to ensure only timber and timber products with documentation proving legality are exported from the country. Any timber or timber products without appropriate documentation are immediately considered illegal. As part of this the Government of Indonesia has designed a system, known as the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), to track and monitor industrial forest concessions, community plantations/forests, privately-owned forests, and upstream and downstream industry.

In addition, VPA negotiations between the EU and Indonesia continue with a technical meeting planned for the end of this year to address outstanding issues before signing an agreement. A number of forest governance policy commitments that will be included in the VPA as Annexes will be developed to describe e.g. the SVLK functionalities, FLEGT licensing arrangements and the periodic evaluation of SVLK implementation by an independent party. 



A technical FLEGT VPA training workshop for government and the private sector took place on 11 September in Hanoi. The workshop was opened by Vice Minister Hua Duc Nhi of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and Ralph Ridder, Head of EFI’s EU FLEGT Facility. Other participants included representatives from MARD’s Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP), EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia, the German GTZ, and representatives of the Vietnamese private sector. Several areas of joint cooperation were identified, including studies and capacity building activities. In addition, Vietnamese delegates from MARD were supported by EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia to observe the Indonesian VPA national multi-stakeholder meeting at the end of September in Jakarta. During the visit Vietnamese officials also met with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the EU FLEGT Facilitator for Indonesia and a representative from the Association of Indonesian Forest Businessmen (APHI). Finally, the report of a ProForest Scoping Mission looking at the potential scope and impacts of a VPA in Vietnam was approved by MARD on 6 October.


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FLEGT VPAs: News from South America:


A two-day national stakeholder workshop, organised by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), took place on 28-29 September in Georgetown, Guyana. The Guyanese Government’s aim was to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a VPA process with in-country stakeholders to better understand their perspective including possible concerns. Participants included representatives from government institutions, the private sector, Amerindian national council representatives, Amerindian village and community members, donors and civil society, including international and local NGOs. The GFC presented their forest policy vision and current activities in the sector and the European Commission and EFI gave presentations on the EC FLEGT Action Plan, the main elements of a VPA process and changing market requirements in Europe and elsewhere in the light of recent legislation which aims to minimise illegal wood in global supply chains.

The Guyanese government will take the next three to four months to discuss further with Guyanese stakeholders, after which they plan to make a decision on whether to move forward with a national VPA.


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FLEGT and Demand-side Initiatives:

The EU Illegal Timber Regulation:

The EU Council of Ministers formally adopted the Regulation on the obligations of operators placing timber and timber products on the market (“Illegal Timber Regulation”) on 11 October. This followed agreement reached between the Council, Commission and European Parliament in July 2010. The Regulation will be published in the EU Official Journal imminently, and will enter into force 20 days after publication. However it will not be applied in practice until early 2013, giving operators and authorities charged with enforcement of the Regulation time to prepare. Further information can be found in the Council’s press release (page 17). 



Swiss Declaration Duty for Timber:

On 1 October 2010, the Swiss Ordinance on the Declaration of Timber and Timber Products entered into force, with a transitional period until the end of 2011. It requires suppliers selling timber or wood products to Swiss consumers to provide information on the species of wood and place of harvest. The objective of this declaration requirement is to promote transparency and to enable customers to choose responsible wood products. In a first stage, the declaration requirement covers round wood, rough sawn wood and a limited number of solid wood products.
Under the requirement, if the country of harvest cannot be determined, it is possible to indicate more than one country, a region or “origin unknown”. Similarly, it is possible to indicate more than one species or the genus. Small enterprises with limited stocks can declare on an annual basis. The Ordinance is available here (only in French, German or Italian).


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FLEGT and Cross-cutting Issues: Road Shows – Meeting Reports:

Road Shows in China and the Mekong Region:

In September, a number of EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia team members embarked on a mini road show with awareness raising activities in Shanghai and Shenzhen in the South of China. A second group undertook a Mekong road show, organising VPA training workshops, dialogues and seminars in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. During these events, participants including representatives of the private sector and civil society, were provided with information regarding the new EU Illegal Timber Regulation and dialogues were facilitated between the EU and governments of the Mekong countries.


EU–China Coordination on FLEG:

On 7 September, the EU and China discussed forest governance and related developments in a formal Bilateral Coordination Mechanism (BCM) meeting at the State Forestry Administration in Beijing. It was agreed to begin joint EU–China activities. EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia will support the implementation. Activities currently under discussion include those relating to awareness-raising, timber tracking and tracing and timber and green public procurement in China.



Sustainable Forests and Market Development Conference in China:

EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia co-organised an International Conference “Forest, Markets, Policy & Practice - China 2010” in Beijing on 7-8 September. It was organised in close collaboration with organisations such as the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) Programme, the Rainforest Alliance, WWF – Global Forest and Trade Network, the Forest Trust and the State Forestry Administration of China. The Director General of DG Environment, Mr. Karl Falkenberg, was a keynote speaker on the EU Illegal Timber Regulation and new EU market requirements for wood and forest products. Mr. David Brooks, Director for Natural Resources Policy and Environmental Reviews of the US Trade Representative Office spoke about the US Lacey Act implementation during his keynote speech. The Conference included a discussion on the developments in export market legislation, reflecting high levels of understanding and engagement on the part of Chinese private sector representatives, who were particularly interested in the new regulations and how they would be able to comply with the requirements. The information booth of EFI-EU FLEGT Asia was well visited, with the most popular item being the Octopus Paul Choosing Legal Timber T-shirt.


ITTF Day in Geneva

Around 100 participants, including timber importers and producers as well as representatives from certification bodies, trade federations and governmental institutions from Europe and African, Asian and South American countries, met at the third International Timber Trade Federation Day in Geneva (6-8 October). The Conference, organised by The Forest Trust in cooperation with EFI and UK AID (DFID), focused on practical ideas and initiatives to improve the marketing and promotion of legal and sustainable timber in order to increase its visibility, highlight its social and environmental benefits and boost demand in global markets. The meeting also provided updates on relevant legislation, the EU Illegal Timber Regulation and the US Lacey Act, inviting timber importers and producers to discuss compliance requirements. All presentations can be downloaded here.



Research Agenda for FLEGT Issues

EFI’s EU FLEGT Facility has recently started to develop a LEGT Research Agenda on behalf of the European Commission. The objective is to identify current and future research needs in the context of implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. The Agenda will address research priorities in the areas of forest policy and governance, forest products marketing and socio-economics, among others. The Agenda will be developed through a participative process, which started with a consultation organised for EFI Associate and Affiliate Members during the EFI Annual Conference week in Dresden, Germany in September. The formulation of the Agenda will involve relevant stakeholders in Europe and beyond. EFI has established a task force to take the responsibility of facilitation of the process, led by EFI’s Assistant Director Gert-Jan Nabuurs. The new policy analyst of the EU FLEGT Facility, Mr. Jo Van Brusselen (jo.vanbrusselen(at) can be contacted for further information on the Research Agenda.


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FLEGT Updates: News Picks - Publications – Upcoming Meetings –Others:

News picks:

Lao Voices” titled on 15 September “EU to ban illegal wooden products

"The Economist” published in September a 14-page special report on forests, mainly focusing on the role of forests and their governance with a view to climate change and REDD

Actu-Environnement” published on 30 September a general article about FLEGT and VPA negotiations titled “Bois illégal : de nouveaux pays exportateurs s'engagent avec l'Union européenne


International Forestry Review special issue “Forest taxation and tropical forest management”, published by the Commonwealth Forestry Association, is available here. 


The results of the two scoping baseline studies about trade and the forest sector in the Mekong region and China are expected to be published soon on the EFI EU FLEGT Facility website. The studies, commissioned on behalf of the European Commission by EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia will give more insight in the trade flows in the region and will provide a starting point for policy dialogue.


Upcoming Meetings:

From 24 to 26 November 2010, a sub-regional Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) workshop will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, organised by EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia. It will provide an overview of policies related to timber legality and market-based initiatives as well as opportunities to exchange experience of timber legality assurance between ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Member States. The objective is to enhance the capacity of the participating countries to develop and implement timber legality assurance systems. Furthermore, it is foreseen that the group will discuss options and elaborate initial steps for sub-regional and/or national level processes in the Mekong region. Selected participants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Brunei and the Philippines have been invited.



EFI’s EU FLEGT Facility is now seeking a Legality Assurance System (LAS) Expert. Detailed information about the post can be found here. The deadline for submitting applications is Nov 15, 2010.

On behalf of the European Commission, the EFI’s EU FLEGT Facility has strengthened the Facility’s expertise on climate change and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) by recruiting its first REDD expert. Ms. Valérie Merckx (formerly with the European Commission DG Climate Action) will focus on assessing linkages between FLEGT and REDD and strengthening synergies between them.


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Updates from ACP-FLEGT Support Programme: News - Meeting Reports:

International Symposium on Indicators to Assess and Monitor the Quality of Forest Governance:FAOsmalllogo1.jpg : 4.40625Kb

The World Bank and FAO organized a two-day symposium on indicators to assess and monitor the quality of forest governance in Stockholm which took place on 13-14 September 2010. During the symposium participants from international organisations and stakeholder groups in target countries evaluated efforts to date in designing forest sector specific indicators and applying them in the field. Core areas evaluated included the use of indicators for investment risk analysis, measuring and monitoring forest sector reforms, success of anti-corruption initiatives and law enforcement, evaluating poverty alleviation efforts, safeguarding human rights, and improving conflict management. Special interest in the use of indicators in monitoring FLEGT outcomes (including VPAs) and implementing REDD+ activities was also emphasised during the symposium.



FLEGT Side Event at FAO Forest Week

During the FAO Forest Week held in Rome on 4-8 October, the EU FLEGT Facility and the ACP-FLEGT Support Programme of the FAO co-organized a side event on FLEGT. The event was directed at the delegates of the Committee on Forestry, as well as the scientists participating in the conference on Emerging Economic Mechanisms: Implications for Forest-Related Policies and Sector Governance, held parallel to the COFO. Speakers highlighted the basics of the FLEGT Action Plan and recent progress in its implementation. Mr. Samuel Ebia, Head of forestry of Cameroon was in an excellent position to describe his country’s progress on the VPA, as their formal agreement had been signed in Brussels one day earlier. A positive position by the representative of Italian timber processing industries was presented by Mr. Michele Alfano from Fedecomlegno. The brief discussion, chaired by Mr. Adrian Whiteman of FAO, brought up a variety of issues ranging from the role of forest science in implementation of the Action Plan and linkages to REDD+.



ACP-FLEGT Support Programme – Signing ceremony in Cameroon

Since its inception the ACP-FLEGT Support Programme, funded through the European Commission, has supported 38 projects in 21 countries to address their FLEGT priorities. On 18 September 2010, the programme representative was in Cameroon to attend a ceremony that marked the signature of five new Letters of Agreement and the start the project implementation phase. In total, eight projects are being implemented in Cameroon with total funding of 900,000 USD. These projects will, among other things, (i) prepare forestry agents from the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife to put in place a legality verification system, (ii) support the National School of Waters and Forests to update aspects of their curriculum, (iii) train communities forest managers to comply with the requirements of the definition of legality, and (iv) modernize the informational tools used by the Ministry of Finance to ensure effective payment of forestry fees.



Workshop on the cross-border trade flows in the African Great Lakes region within the FLEGT Action Plan

On 22-24 November, a workshop will be held in Bujumbura, Burundi, with participants from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to address the issue of informal timber trade in the Great Lakes region. Over the past few years, the importance of the forest sector and its economic, social and environmental impacts has been assessed and the results will contribute to the discussions. Furthermore, the importance of organising a meeting with all these countries was reinforced when DRC entered into VPA negotiations with the EU. The workshop topics will also address the issues of informal trade and its related impact on the framework of the Agreement.


FAO/ ITTO/IFIA Workshop on the forest sector industrialisation in Central Africa

FAO, ITTO and IFIA held a forest industries workshop in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on 21-22 September. There was strong participation of the private sector and the involved members of the Administration, in particular those in charge of forests, trade and finance. Recommendations developed as a result of the meeting address: (i) investment strategies to support wood processing, (ii) tax incentives, (iii) trade obstacles in local and regional markets, and (iv) integration of the informal sector to the national economies. FAO, in collaboration with the ITTO and IFIA, will organise similar workshops in other countries in the region that share these same difficulties in creating a favourable environment for investments and promoting formal local and sub-local wood markets.


See the FAO ACP-FLEGT Support Programme website ( for all complementary information regarding projects and activities. Or contact the programme management at acp-flegt-info(at) 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)

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: and