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Illegal logging

Illegal logging is directly connected to corruption, weak and unclear laws, compromised officials, feeble government institutions and fragile civil society. It devastates communities, destroys the environment, denies tax revenue to governments and can trap countries in a cycle of poverty.

Laws can also however forbid small scale logging despite it often being both sustainable and an integral part of the local economy, supporting political parties, small companies, and local communities. This is why just clamping down on illegal activities doesn’t get to the root cause of the problem.

It will only be possible to tackle the root causes of illegal logging if:

  • It is possible to see and record what is happening (transparency),
  • People are being held to account for upholding the law (accountability),
  • People have the skills, time and resources to monitor logging activities and point out any problems (capacity), and
  • Relevant laws support, not undermine, local communities’ rights (just laws).

A capable and well-informed local, national and international civil society can help to achieve these changes, by demanding transparency, holding institutions and individuals to account, challenging the excessive influence of the timber industry over forest policies, and campaigning for legal reform.

To ensure that attempts to end illegal logging are successful, ‘just’ laws need to be in place to ensure that the legal system supports communities, instead of penalising them. This means that the people affected by forestry operations must have the power to influence legislation and policies related to forestry, and be able to campaign for effective enforcement.

Promoting legal timber

Legal logging, if based on environmentally sound and socially just principles, can improve forest management practices, whilst providing livelihoods for local communities.

The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan, and especially the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) negotiated between wood producing countries and the EU create a good basis for the production of truly sustainable timber. FLEGT VPAs aim to ensure that wood being sold in the EU can be shown to be legally sourced, and that a transparent, accountable and sustainable timber trade supports, rather than harms forest communities.

FLEGT VPAs will not solve the problems of illegal logging overnight. But they are currently the most promising international tool for tackling the root causes, and promoting lasting positive change in the forests.

 

More PowerPoint presentations from FERN

Get the latest news about illegal logging

 

FERN's monthly newsletter Forest Watch includes up-to-date information on illegal logging and FLEGT VPAs. Sign-up to receive Forest Watch monthly and read past editions here.

Regular updates about illegal logging and FLEGT VPAs from partner organisations in specific countries are published on www.loggingoff.info.

To learn more about FERN’S illegal logging campaign, see the Forest Law and Governance (FLEGT) pages.

Most recent publications

Mexican community forest constitution

This is a typical constitution for a community forest in Mexico.  It is the central document setting out how the community governs itself and its land and resources.  It covers issues such as:

Making Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) work for forests, people and the climate: Civil society recommendations on the future of VPAs

As decision makers in the European Union (EU) and timber producing countries consider the future of the FLEGT Action Plan, and its Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA), civil society organisations and platforms from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Guyana, Liberia, Honduras, Indonesia, Republic of the Congo, Vietnam, and Europe have issued Making VPAs work for forests, people and the climate a new briefing with recommendations for how to strengthen and upgrade the VPAs.

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PDF iconbriefing VPAs.pdf565.81 KB

Tackling illegal logging in Ghana: Why civil society is generating pressure to deliver a VPA

by Samuel Mawutor


 

I have just returned from a two-week policy tour of Europe, visiting decision makers working on the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan in Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands. I was hoping to whip up interest in and support for FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) by showing Member States the successes and impacts that the Ghana VPA is already having. I also wanted to raise the challenges that civil society are having with the process. Together with my colleagues from Liberia and Cameroon, we also sought to highlight the fact that FLEGT is a transformational approach to developmental aid, which may be slow but could have far-reaching effects.

Community forests: A discussion document for Fern and partners

Anyone who works with forest dwellers across the world asks themselves the following question at some point or another: Can community forests be a viable alternative to industrial logging? If so, what form would this alternative take and is it achievable? This report seeks to analyse this question in the hope of clearing up the debates and discussions between Fern’s various partners.

A new beginning in the fight against illegal timber

By Saskia Ozinga

The first batch of timber considered legal under Europe’s most innovative ever anti-illegal logging policy arrived in the UK this month. 

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