Subject: EFI EU FLEGT News, October/November 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 Partnership Agreements – News from Africa
FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements – News from Asia
Cross-cutting issues
FLEGT-REDD Linkages
Publications, upcoming events and news
Updates from ACP- FLEGT Support Programme
 

FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements – News from Africa:

 

Republic of Congo

The Congolese Ministry of Forestry has arranged no-penalty verification tests for all timber companies operating in the country.

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These verification tests assist companies to comply with new measures designed to ensure they are properly verifying their legal standing and are in full compliance with regulations as outlined in the VPA. The new procedures are part of improved practices that the Republic of the Congo has introduced as part of its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU. The EU is providing support for the testing process.


To advise companies on how to prepare for these no-penalty verification tests, the Association technique internationale des bois tropicaux (ATIBT) gathered representatives from timber companies in two workshops in September and October. These verification tests ‘tests à blanc de légalité’ in French, took place in October in about half of the companies operating in Congo. A second round will take place in December to audit the remaining half.

Participation is mandatory for all companies operating in the country. Two companies that are not currently operational did not take part.


These audits help both those who must develop compliance procedures and those who must comply with them. The forest consultancy group Terre Environnement Aménagement has been given a mandate by the Congolese government to assess the feasibility of the procedures, based on the country’s timber Legality Definition as described in the VPA. Timber companies have the opportunity to learn about any additional measures that they must take to provide the evidence of legal compliance as indicated by the 162 legality indicators developed by Congo and framed in the VPA.


The EU FAO FLEGT Programme also supported the verification test process by supporting the participation of forestry department officials who oversee timber company compliance. At the request of the fledgling administrative unit tasked with overseeing timber legality compliance, the Cellule de Légalité Forestière et de la Traçabilité du Congo, officials joined the process.


The ATIBT is also tasked with reviewing the audit results with each company and again as a group once all the tests have been completed.


Central African Republic

Following the ratification in July of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) by the Government of the Central African Republic, the VPA Joint Implementation Committee met for the first time in Bangui on 14 September. The text framing the functioning of this committee, which was presented at the meeting, will be finalised shortly. The Technical VPA Secretariat is currently focusing on the development of procedures to systematise forestry sector operations and verification activities. This will link the field level controls to the legality verification grids of the VPA. This is an essential step in developing the Legality Assurance System and in contributing further to the review of the legal framework. Civil society organisations are preparing themselves to contribute to these activities and for their involvement in VPA implementation more broadly.


The next Joint Implementation Committee meeting is expected to take place in March 2013.

 

Cameroon

The third meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee (Comité conjoint de suivi) in Cameroon took place on 28–29 November. It was preceded and followed by technical discussion.


Since the second meeting in July, the Independent Auditor, who will assess the Legality Assurance System, has been appointed. In addition, the National Implementation Committee (Comité national de suivi), the multi-stakeholder committee tasked to monitor and guide the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), has been established; it is expected to be operational soon. Issues covered at the meeting were ongoing legal reform processes and the traceability pilot project.


The EFI support team has regularly visited Cameroon over the past few months to provide backstopping in the development of elements of the LAS system and to assist the Government and the EU Delegation to prepare for the Joint Implementation Committee by meeting with the wide array of state and non-state actors following the process.


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FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements – News from Asia:

 

Lao PDR

A workshop was held in Vientiane on 22–23 November in preparation for the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiations between the European Union and the Government of Lao PDR, which are about to start.

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The workshop was organised jointly by the Government of Lao PDR, the European Commission and GIZ. The objectives were to increase stakeholders’ awareness of the FLEGT VPA process, create a common understanding of the VPA and the negotiation process, and identify the next steps leading up to the formal start of negotiations. The workshop was attended by representatives of various Lao government departments involved in the VPA process (including provincial authorities), the private sector, local civil society and international organisations based in the country.

 

During the workshop, participants exchanged information and had preliminary consultations on issues related to the definition of timber legality, the need for extensive stakeholder consultation in the VPA process and the issues related to the development of a timber legality assurance system to track and monitor timber flows in Lao PDR.

Also, stakeholders elaborated and agreed on a work-plan schedule (roadmap). This envisages further preparation work on the Lao side, technical level meetings between European experts and Lao stakeholders, and a first VPA negotiation session in mid 2013.

 

More information:

Press release by the EU Delegation in Lao PDR

Baseline study Lao PDR: Overview of Forest Governance, Markets and Trade

Study for Understanding Timber Flows & Control in Lao PDR

 

More on Lao PDR

Also in Lao PDR, in early October the government and the German Agency for International Development (GIZ) made an agreement for a new technical cooperation project, valued at 5.8 million euros. The project is in support of the FLEGT process. The aim of the project is to develop and improve timber control systems, stakeholder consultation and planning processes, coordination between national and provincial levels, and the testing of core elements of the improved timber control system at the provincial level.

 

Indonesia

Indonesia and the EU have carried out an exercise to test the performance of export and import procedures for timber shipments as part of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). On 23 October, consignments of plywood, paper, furniture and other timber products left Indonesia for ports in six EU countries. The first shipments arrived on 10 November; testing will continue into December. This test represents the first practical effort to prepare timber operators and officials in the EU for the import of FLEGT licensed timber.


The EU–Indonesia VPA negotiations were concluded in April 2011 and the VPA awaits ratification. This test makes use of proxy FLEGT licences. Valid FLEGT licenses will be issued after ratification of the VPA and once Indonesia’s Legality Assurance System for the timber is operational and has passed an independent assessment. The EU FLEGT facility is assisting European Union and Indonesian officials in the test of systems handling FLEGT licenses.


Enterprises participating in the tests include Indonesian exporters and European importers based in Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The preliminary findings are to be presented in Brussels in early December and final findings will be presented by the end of the year.


More details on the shipment test are given in this Briefing Note.

 

Vietnam

The third Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiation session between the EU and the Government of Vietnam took place in Brussels in November. The main issues discussed were Legality Definition, development of the Timber Legality Assurance System, including how to ensure legality of origin for imports, and the List of Timber Products to be covered. First exchange of information was related to the Licensing System, Public Information and the Independent Monitoring Annexes. An updated roadmap was agreed upon, with a fourth negotiation session scheduled for May 2013. The goal is to conclude negotiations by September 2013.


Consultations between the Vietnam Forest Administration (VNFOREST) and civil society continued in late September during a workshop on ‘Strengthening the capacity of civil society on the VPA/FLEGT and REDD+’, which was organised by members of the Vietnamese NGO–FLEGT Network. During the workshop, the Executive Board for the Network was inaugurated and the Network Charter presented. The workshop was also used to plan consultations with forest-dependent communities on the timber Legality Definition; these consultations were held in five provinces in October. A summary of the results of these consultations will be made available for the ongoing Legality Definition preparation process.

 

Thailand

The Thai Parliament is completing its preparations for a parliamentary discussion on the possibility to engage in FLEGT VPA negotiations, scheduled for the first working session of the Parliament in March/April 2013. At this stage it is still unknown if and when Thailand will start FLEGT VPA negotiations.


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Cross-cutting issues:

 

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Meetings held alongside the International Tropical Timber Council session



At the 48th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) in Yokohama, Japan, EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia Regional Regional Funding (FLEGT Asia) supported  a joint EU–USA–Australia Side Event on Market Requirements for Tropical Timber, held on 9 November. The side event featured presentations by the EU, US and Australia on their legislative measures, as well as presentations by industry representatives from China and Thailand on their countries’ responses to these market requirements for legal timber. The side event attracted around 80 participants.

FLEGT Asia’s Regional Advisory Group met for the last time on 10 November, under the current FLEGT Asia Regional Programme. The meeting focused on progress made during 2011–2012, lessons learned and ideas for improvements during the next phase of FLEGT work in Asia.


An International Conference on Legal Wood  was held, in the same location as the ITTC meeting, on 11 November. It was organised by the Goho-wood secretariat and the Forestry Agency of Japan. The conference organisers invited speakers from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, The Netherlands and the USA to comment on the Japanese Goho-wood legality verification system. A lively discussion covered a wide range of topics, including the cost of verification, independent verification, how to determine legality clearly, whether government documentation is sufficient proof and how importers can perform risk assessments and prove legality.

 

Australian legislation to combat global illegal logging passes through Parliament

Australian legislation prohibiting the importation of illegally logged timber products has now passed through Parliament. There is also a new due diligence requirement for importers of timber products.


Australia is putting in place legislation to combat the trade in illegally logged timber products. The Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill which passed yesterday is framework legislation and many of the details will be fleshed out in regulations that will be developed over the next two years. The European Union and the United States have enacted similar legislation.


The Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2012 creates an even economic playing field for the purchase and sale of legally logged timber products in Australia and gives consumers and businesses greater certainty about the legality of the timber products they buy.


How does the bill restrict the importation and sale of illegally logged timber in Australia?


• It prohibits the import of illegally logged timber and timber products.
• It prohibits the processing of domestically grown raw logs that have been illegally logged.
• It establish offences and penalties, including up to five years imprisonment, for the import or processing of illegal timber and timber products.
• It establishes comprehensive monitoring and investigation powers to enforce the above requirements of the Bill.
These provisions will come into effect the day after Royal Assent. Regulations will come into effect two years from when the Bill becomes law.


More information can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

A copy of the Bill and an explanatory memorandum can be viewed on the Parliament of Australia website.

 

Needs Assessment for the EU–China Joint Training Course on FLEGT undergoes peer review

A peer review meeting of a needs assessment to look into the EU – China Joint Training Course was attended by 15 representatives of government agencies, universities and related organisations. The review was held at the People’s University of China (Renmin University) on 16 September. The Needs Assessment Study, contracted by FLEGT Asia to Renmin University, had targeted key stakeholders that would be affected by the FLEGT Action Plan. The results showed that only a few Chinese enterprises have prepared appropriate approaches to meet the new market requirements. During the meeting, the importance of training and outreach was emphasised, not only to enterprises, but also to industry associations, government departments, research institutions and international organisations working in China. It was also said that the administration welcomed such analyses and studies of international forest products policy trends and developments, as a means of helping Chinese enterprises respond appropriately to reduce trading risks and business losses. An integrated sector-wide mechanism for communications and consultation for awareness-raising was proposed, and green procurement was advocated. 

 

Myanmar fact-finding mission

A fact-finding mission took place in Myanmar during 20–28 October. The fact-finding team consisted of representatives from the EU Delegation to Thailand, FLEGT Asia, the UK Department for International Development, the NGO Forest Trends and the European Timber Trade Federation. The mission involved meetings with a broad range of stakeholders. Team members also participated in two workshops: a conference titled ‘EU–Myanmar Relations: Working Together’ organised by the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MSIS) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), and a seminar on ‘Teak and the EU Market’ organised by the Myanmar Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry and the Myanmar Timber Merchants Association. Findings from the mission were used to prepare a paper on options for engagement with Myanmar for the consideration of the EU.

 

FLEGT Action Plan outreach conducted during regional furniture fair

The Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) organised a Regional Green Forum for all ASEAN furniture industries councils, held on 18 October in conjunction with FurniPRO Asia. Attendees came from across Southeast Asia, including from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. FLEGT Asia presented the FLEGT Action Plan. There was a high level of interest from the participants, who asked many questions on the effects of the Action Plan on the furniture industry in Southeast Asia.

 

Malaysia hosts International Conference on Market Requirements for Timber and Timber Products

The International Conference on Market Requirements for Timber and Timber Products was organised by the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC), EFI’s EU FLEGT Asia and the European Timber Trade Federation, with support from The Forest Trust’s Timber Trade Action Plan project. The conference was held in Kuala Lumpur on 3 October in conjunction with MTC Global Woodmart 2012, and was attended by more than 230 international and local participants. During the event, representatives of timber trade federations, the private sector, government and NGOs from around the world received updates on specific market requirements for legal timber in the USA, the EU and Australia. More information on the event, including the speakers’ presentations, is available here.

 

Myanmar log export ban to come into force in 2014

Authorities in Myanmar have announced plans to ban the export of logs effective from 1 April 2014. Their stated aim is to save the country’s forests and to focus on the manufacturing of high-quality wood products for export. The full story is available here.


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FLEGT-REDD Linkages:

 

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EFI co-organises governance session at the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility meeting in Brazzaville

 

A session on REDD+ and governance, organised by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), UN-REDD, the African Model Forest Network and EFI, was held during the FCPF Participants Assembly in Brazzaville on 23 October. During the session, findings from the FCPF/UN-REDD Country Needs Assessment were presented. According to the study, more than 80% of countries prioritise governance for support, in particular institutional strengthening, benefit sharing and legal reform. Colombia, Indonesia and the Republic of the Congo presented case studies which outlined on-going work on forest governance in their countries.

Elizabeth Valenzuela from Colombia highlighted the importance of promoting legality and of controls and sanctions along the forestry supply chain. Mas Achmad Santosa from Indonesia insisted that REDD+ should be an entry point for radical change in the governance of natural resources and described Indonesia’s efforts to tackle corruption and the mainstreaming of anti-corruption measures in all three phases of REDD+ implementation. Georges Boundzanga from the Republic of the Congo described the country’s progress since the first Forest Code was introduced in 1974 and reported on improvements in governance attributable to forest zoning, the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and the FCPF R-PP (Readiness Preparation Proposal) process. During a final panel, a donor, a development partner, a member of a civil society group and a parliamentarian offered insights into ways that the international community can support governance reforms for effective REDD+ implementation.

Presentations are available here.


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Publications, upcoming events and news:


Publications

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New booklet released on ‘International Developments in Trade in Legal Timber’

 

The USA, the EU and Australia are large producers and consumers of timber and timber products. In recent years, these consumer countries have taken steps to combat trade in illegally harvested timber and timber products more effectively. Actions include encouraging retailer purchasing preferences, revising public procurement policies and, more recently, enacting legislation. To give more insight into these developments, the EU FLEGT Facility, with inputs from the Forest Legality Alliance and the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has compiled a booklet that gives an overview of the current situation. The booklet brings together information about the US Lacey Act, the EU Timber Regulation and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill. It summarises the new market requirements, with clear explanations, frequently asked questions and links to further information.

 

The European Commission publishes draft Guidance Document on EU Timber Regulation

To clarify certain aspects of the EU Timber Regulation, the European Commission recently published a draft guidance document. Topics discussed in the guidance document include the definition of ‘placing on the market’, the product scope, the role of third-party verification schemes in the process of risk assessment and risk mitigation, regular evaluation of a due diligence system and composite products. The European Commission aims to finalise the document by the end of the year.

 

Study published on timber flows and their control in Thailand

A study was undertaken to determine the domestic, imported and exported timber flows in Thailand, and to assess how they are controlled by Thailand’s Royal Forest Department and other government agencies. The aim of the study was to provide information to support preparations for the Government of Thailand’s potential negotiations with the EU on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), as part of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The report can be downloaded in English and Thai.

 

Study published on timber flows and their control in Lao PDR

A study was undertaken to improve understanding of timber flows in Lao PDR and to understand the roles of the government agencies involved in the timber supply chain, from the forest area to processing. The study analysed the current system and procedures in Lao PDR and identified elements that need to be addressed to ensure legality of the country’s timber supply. The report can be downloaded here.

 

FAQs on EU Timber Regulation published

EFI has published two new sets of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the EU Timber Regulation. The first set of FAQs focuses on the role of certification when performing due diligence and the enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation. The second set of FAQs contains questions regarding imports and exports. The full list of questions and answers is also available on the website and will be updated regularly.

 

Upcoming events

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26 November – 7 December: UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) 18th Conference of the Parties


The 18th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 8th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol will take place from Monday 26 November to Friday 7 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha. The Doha conference will comprise the following sessions:

 

The 18th Conference of the Parties (COP)

The 8th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP)

The 37th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)

The 37th session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI)

The second part of the 17th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP)

The second part of the 15th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA)

The second part of the 1st session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)

Forest Day 6

 

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6 December: Conference on ‘Illegal logging and legality verification – the FLEGT/VPA as new modes of governance’

 

The aim of this international conference, organised by the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with EFI, the Institute of Resource Economics and the Yale Program on Forest Policy and Governance, is to provide a platform for researchers and practitioners to present and discuss their work related to illegal logging, trade in illegal timber and measures designed to counteract such practices. The conference programme is now available. More information is available on the conference website.

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13 December: Applications for course in ‘Improving Forest Governance’

 

This course, run by the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) at the University of Wolverhampton focuses on improved forest governance in areas such as climate change and forest trade. It offers participants the opportunity to strengthen the communication, planning and other skills that they need to influence improvements. Some places are fully funded for up to six weeks. The four core modules cover forest governance, communication, trade and climate change/payments for environmental services. Up to two optional skills modules can also be taken in weeks 5 and 6. Further details are available here. Note that the deadline for applications for fully funded places is 13 December.

News

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Civil society representatives from the forestry sector bring experience and questions to the EU Parliament

 

On 9 October, Members of the European Parliament Yannick Jadot and Fiona Hall hosted a high-level event titled ‘Guardians of the Forest?’ held at the European Parliament and organised together with the NGO FERN. The aim of the conference was to explore 10 years of EU innovation and achievements in worldwide forest governance and the challenges that lie ahead. EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs delivered the keynote speech, in which he emphasised his enthusiasm for FLEGT, saying: ‘If used in the correct way, [Voluntary Partnership Agreements] are a central piece of the puzzle to fight poverty by ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth.’

At the conference, participants examined the history of the EU FLEGT Action Plan, and explored ways to apply lessons learned for the future. To look at challenges and achievements to date from the FLEGT VPA process from various perspectives, the conference brought together European Commission officials, representatives from the European Timber Trade Federation, international NGOs and civil society representatives from the 12 countries that are negotiating or implementing a bilateral VPA. Liberia’s Matthieu Thee Walley, a community representative, explained, ‘The VPA has played a key role in strengthening the voice of communities and NGOs in national-level decision-making.’

A report by journalist Fred Pearce, ‘Forest Stands’, was also presented during the event presenting his findings based on field visits in three VPA countries. According to Mr Pearce, VPAs are a ‘template for ensuring civil society engagement and changing the balance of power’.


More information:

To watch a film of the event, please click here
Keynote speech by Commissioner Piebalgs

 

 

Join the FLEGT Group in the Capacity4Dev.eu community


Become a member of capacity4dev, the online community for development practitioners, and apply for membership of the FLEGT Group to start contributing and sharing your own knowledge and experience about FLEGT. The aim of the FLEGT Group is to improve coordination on FLEGT policy implementation, share information about FLEGT events around the world and facilitate easy and decentralised knowledge sharing. The group targets staff of the EC and European External Action Service (EEAS), EU Member States and FLEGT specialists, as well as partner organisations and governments and beneficiaries of FLEGT-related projects.

 

Once you’ve joined the group, you can share information about upcoming events, blog about FLEGT-related topics and contact FLEGT colleagues.


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Updates from ACP- FLEGT Support Programme:

  

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EU FAO FLEGT Programme – First call for project proposals from non-VPA countries

 

The EU FAO FLEGT Programme has announced its first call for proposals for projects to be conducted through the programme. The call is open to eligible developing countries that are not currently negotiating or implementing a Voluntary Partnership Agreement. The call for proposals will close on 12 December. More information about the call for proposals is available here.

Kenya – Subregional workshop held on sharing FLEGT experiences in Eastern Africa

 

The ACP-FLEGT Support Programme and Kenya Forest Service held a three-day workshop in Nairobi on 20–22 November to review actions to date, share experiences on FLEGT implementation, set priorities and reflect on strategies at both national and regional levels. Attending the workshop were 50 stakeholders involved in the FLEGT process from the subregion (Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda) and international organisations. Topics discussed included: legality monitoring and timber-tracking systems in domestic, regional and international markets; independent monitoring and transparency; and stakeholder participation to improve forest governance.

 

Cameroon – Stakeholders’ workshop held on access to information (Annex VII of the VPA)

 

FODER, a Cameroonian NGO, held a workshop to inform stakeholders about the importance of Annex VII of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), to identify the information/documents that must be publicly accessible and to develop a strategy to ensure access to information. The workshop, funded by the ACP-FLEGT Support Programme, was held on 15 and 16 November and was attended by representatives of various governmental institutions, the EU, GIZ, civil society organisations and the private sector.

As an outcome of the workshop, an action plan was drafted, setting out priority activities to be completed before 3 March 2013.

 

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Ghana – Regional conference held on experiences from the VPA process in West and Central Africa



The ACP-FLEGT Support Programme, the Forestry Commission of Ghana, EFI and the IDL group held a regional conference to discuss experiences from the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) process in West and Central Africa. More than 130 participants from 14 countries attended the regional conference. The three-day conference provided a forum where FLEGT practitioners discussed and shared their experiences with the VPA process from the past few years. During the conference, a compendium highlighting 16 experiences and the resulting lessons was released.

 

 

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/