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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

Comment on the COP21 - a forest perspective

Forests barely feature in the draft text, but runaway climate change could devastate the forests which more than a billion people directly rely on for their survival. Forests also play a crucial role in regulating the climate. Whichever way you look at it, the outcome of the Paris agreement is also an outcome for forests.
 
Kate Dooley  is in Paris, tracking the developments in the UN climate summit. She has written this overview of the talks from a forests perspective for Fern. Check back later in the  week for  further perspectives from Kate and other contributors.

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.

More focus, more resources needed to halt illegal logging

Press release: Fern responds to European Court of Auditors Report on EU’s efforts to halt illegal timber:

The long-awaited European Court of Auditors report on the EU Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) contains “welcome recommendations” but “omits key information”, says Saskia Ozinga, Campaigns Co-ordinator at social and environmental NGO Fern.

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PDF iconPress release auditors report285.39 KB

NGO analysis of Cameroon ER-PIN

Next week, Cameroon government’s Emission Reductions Programme Idea Note (ER-PIN) will be discussed during the 13th Carbon Fund meeting of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Local NGOs, in the form of the Communities and Forest Platform, as well as international NGOs, including Fern, have analysed the ER-PIN and have submitted their response, which expresses concerns about the process by which the ER-PIN was developed, as well as its content.

Penan Land Rights in Sarawak

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), Fern’s partner in Malaysia, has released a publication, Penan Land Rights in Sarawak: 13 years after the Long Sayan Declaration 2002.

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

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