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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.

 

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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

Letter to agriculture ministers for European Council meeting on FLEGT

This letter to agricultural ministers thanks them for their actions to control illegal logging and encourages them to ensure all forest risk commodities’ supply chains consist of only legally and sustainably sourced products, free from deforestation, and develop an EU Action Plan on deforestation and forest degradation, to ensure policy coherence across different sectors.

Japan’s new law fails to meet G7 commitment to halt the trade in illegal timber

This joint letter on behalf of 15 organisations highlights serious weaknesses in Japan’s new law intended to stop the trade in illegal timber. It outlines the measures that the Japanese government should take to ensure their legislation has a positive impact on the illegal timber trade. It is also available in Japanese.

Scoping Study on EU-China Relationships in the Forestry Sector

China’s rapid economic growth has spurred a massive demand for natural resources – including timber, agricultural commodities and minerals – the vast bulk of which are imported. Although it is estimated that the proportion of China’s imports of illegally sourced timber has fallen, the total volume of illegally sourced timber nearly doubled from 17 million in 2005 to 33 million m3 in 2013. A substantial part of these imports is exported to Europe.

New evidence shows EU’s ground-breaking illegal timber policy works

(Brussels) May 4, 2016 – As the European Commission releases a review of its flagship forest policy, new evidence from social and environmental justice NGO Fern shows the benefits it is bringing in many tropical forested countries.

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Do FLEGT VPAs improve governance?

Fern has published research showing that the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) have led to clear improvements in forest governance. the publication of the research came as the European Commission released an independent review of the FLEGT Action Plan, the EU’s flagship forest policy

NGOs call for FLEGT Action Plan to be strengthened

A group of NGOs, including Fern, has issued a briefing paper calling on the EU to strengthen the measures contained in the FLEGT Action Plan as a way of tackling illegal logging. The briefing is the NGOs’ contribution to the policy debate related to the evaluation of the FLEGT Action Plan, the review of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), and the EU’s commitment to halt deforestation and restore degraded forests by 2020.

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PDF iconNGO_FLEGT_briefing637.94 KB

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