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Forest Law and Governance: Film

How FLEGT is making a difference in the CAR

The new transitional government of the Central African Republic is in the process of drafting a new constitution, and, for the first time, many forest communities have been consulted about their country’s future. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the CAR and the EU is one of the tools that has been used by civil society actors to make their voices heard.

The Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest on Earth, and holds up to 25% of the world's forest-based carbon. Unchecked deforestation in the region here not only threatens the livelihoods of over 70 million people, it could also have a devastating impact on the planet’s climate.

Timber production provides a significant form of revenue for the Central African Republic (CAR). But regulating the timber industry there has been far from easy.

As the CAR prepares a new constitution, campaigners believe this as a great opportunity to strengthen the country’s forest governance.

Thanks to the work of NGOs, including Fern’s local partners, this was the first time many forest communities had been consulted about the future of their country.

One of the tools used by campaigners as leverage is the timber trade agreement being negotiated with the EU. Known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), its legally binding provisions have helped put forest governance high on the political agenda and enabled civil society participation in forest reform processes.

The VPAs are a key element of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process, which aims to improve forest governance and strengthen tenure rights of local communities, as well as controlling the import of illegal timber in the EU.

Introducing FLEGT

This short film introduces FLEGT, the EU’s flagship forest policy, which Fern believes is the most effective vehicle to combat illegal logging and deforestation, and ensuring that the world’s tropical forests are managed fairly

Robinson Djeukam Njinga Memorial

On 19 August 2015 our dear friend and colleague, Robinson Djeukam Njinga, an environmental and social justice lawyer and activist in Cameroon, passed away suddenly in a hospital in Yaoundé. With his passing, Fern and many others working on forests, have lost an esteemed ally. Robinson’s warmth, dedication, engagement and professionalism will be in our memories forever.

For more than 20 years Robinson was a leading advocate, combating illegal logging and promoting forest governance and community rights in Cameroon, as well as the entire Congo Basin region. He was a valued civil society actor in the African region and an active member of the African Community Rights Network (ACRN) since its creation in 2008.

For a decade Robinson worked with the CED (Centre for Environmental Development) and trained the first cohort of young lawyers offering legal services directly to communities in Cameroon. As a legal expert he contributed greatly to legal reforms in the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. In 2011 he co-founded Green Development Advocates (GDA), an organisation focusing on social and economic rights in the Congo Basin, and remained its director. until the end. Our thoughts are with his wife, Rose, his children and his beloved friends and colleagues. To express condolences, please send a message to

A chance for change in the Congolese forests

The tropical rainforests covering vast tracts of the Republic of Congo (RoC) are being chopped down at a startling rate. As they vanish, the people living in them fall deeper into poverty and global climate change accelerates. There is hope that an innovative yet little-known trade agreement between the RoC and the European Union (EU) to export timber products will help halt the tide of destruction and improve the lives of the forests’ inhabitants.

In 2010 the EU and the Republic of Congo signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a legally-binding deal recognising the rights of forest communities and outlawing illegally sourced timber. The agreement is one of several that the EU has either signed or is negotiating with timber producing countries in Africa, Asia and South America under its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. If successful, these agreements will revolutionise how the world’s largest tropical rainforests are run.

In the RoC, implementation of the VPA has led to civil society being involved in reform of the country’s forest code, which will give them a say in how the forests are run for the first time. This is a remarkable achievement in a nation where the voices of civil society are not usually heard.

Most recent publications

ForestWatch VPA Update November 2017: A year on from FLEGT licensing

LoggingOff and Fern publish occasional Forest Watch updates detailing events in countries negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement from a civil society perspective.

PDF iconVPA Update Nov2017.pdf5.35 MB

Sacrificing South America’s forests on the altar of EU market access

The first trade talks between the European Union and the Mercosur bloc of nations - Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – began almost 20 years ago. Since then they have stuttered through 28 rounds of negotiations, but this year it looks as if an agreement will finally be reached. A critical issue remains unresolved, however: the amount of beef the South American nations can export to the EU...

The fate of the Congo Basin forests must lie with its people

By Marie-Ange Kalenga

A light breeze of democratisation is blowing through the Congo Basin – and it is being driven by civil society.

Analysis of gender impacts of the Ghana Voluntary Partnership Agreement with European Union

Fern commissioned this study of gender issues in Ghana’s FLEGT VPA as a tentative first step to looking at gender issues which have to date received only scant attention.It offers TAYLOR CRABBE INNITIATIVE’s observations about how gender issues have been dealt with i

PDF iconbriefing gender ghana final.pdf741.67 KB

Independent Forest Monitoring: a chance for improved governance in VPA countries?

The forest sector is particularly vulnerable to poor governance including corruption, fraud, and organised crime. Illegality in the sector generates vast sums of money and has helped fuel long and bloody conflicts.

PDF iconforest monitoring final.pdf514.15 KB

Ghana is on the brink of a major advance in its fight against illegal logging. But now its forests face serious threat from mining.

By Samuel Mawutor

Between 1990 and 2005 Ghana lost an estimated quarter of its national forest cover. Illegal timber harvesting was rife, and poor governance and a lack of transparency plagued the forest sector.

Things began to change for the better from 2008 with the introduction of the Natural Resources and Environmental Governance programme, an initiative supported by international donors on the basis that Ghana agreed to reform its forest sector, and improve the governance of its natural resources more generally.