The FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) Action Plan was published in 2003 in recognition of the EU’s responsibilities as one of the world’s largest markets for illegal tropical timber. The World Bank estimates that, over the past decade, the failure to enforce forest law and collect fees and taxes on timber extraction has cost developing country governments an estimated US$15 billion in lost revenue and foregone macro-economic growth per year (more than eight times the total official development assistance dedicated to the sustainable management of forests). In light of this, the Action Plan sets out a range of options for European institutions that wish to support global efforts to reduce market demand for cheap illegal forest products. At the heart of these options is a voluntary timber licensing system covering imports of a number of forest products to the European market.
In the absence of a multilateral regime governing forests, the legality licensing scheme is being implemented via a number of bilateral agreements (known as Voluntary Partnership Agreements or VPAs) between the EU and tropical timber producing countries that wish to be involved. The agreements commit the EU to funding capacity building and institutional investment that would allow countries to enforce forest law and capture revenue from planned exploitation of forest resources. Following an agreed period of investment, the EU will make import from these partner countries continent on presentation of a legality license.
More information about Improving Forest Governance in Asia is available on EuropeAid’s web pages.
More information about the FLEGT Action Plan can be found on the EU FLEGT Portal: