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Forest Law and Governance: Press Releases

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.

The independent review of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, released by the EC today, highlights the scheme’s successes as well as areas ripe for improvement, calling it “fully relevant… innovative, comprehensive and future proof”, while stating that it needs to “address new challenges in particular with regard to deforestation and conversion timber”. [1]

Fern’s research, also released today, reveals that all the countries that have signed trade deals - so-called Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) - with the European Union under FLEGT, have shown clear improvements in the way their forests are owned and managed.

“Forest communities in some of the most deprived countries on earth, including Liberia and the Central African Republic, are seeing financial and other benefits from their forests, often for the first time. Democratic space is opening up and civil society and forest communities are helping shape more just forest laws,” said Lindsay Duffield, a Fern campaign co-ordinator and author of today’s report Do FLEGT VPAs improve governance?[2]

 “FLEGT is the most innovative international attempt so far to protect tropical forests and stop illegal logging, and this review should be a catalyst for strengthening it. We echo the review’s recommendation that it addresses new challenges, in particular by urgently tackling the problem of conversion timber,” she said.[3]

[1] The FLEGT Action Plan was established in 2003 by the EU to curb illegal logging and related trade, promote sustainable forest management, and address some of the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation. The central pillars of the FLEGT Action Plan are the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) and Green Public Procurement (GPP). Fern works in nine countries which have either signed or are negotiating VPAs with the EU.


[2] A growing body of evidence shows a highly effective way of keeping forests standing is for those whose lives depend on them to have a say in how they are run.

[3] Conversion timber - trees that have been clear-cut to make way for agriculture - is now estimated to constitute almost half the tropical timber on the international market.


PDF iconFLEGT_review_PR334.02 KB

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.

PDF iconPress release auditors report285.39 KB

New film shows EU at front-line of efforts to end illegal logging

This press release highlights the launch of a new film “Stories from the ground” which shows that the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process is having a real tangible effect in forested countries, with governments listening, often for the first time, to those who live in and depend on the forests. To watch the film visit:

PDF iconStories from the ground.pdf293.27 KB

“Ebola is winning.” Liberia appeals for urgent help battling the disease that has West Africa under siege

This press release outlines Liberian campaigners concern that the international response to the Ebola outbreak has been desperately slow. It also anounces an appeal for massively ramped-up, on-the-ground help to tackle the disease that is sweeping their nation with unprecedented speed.

UK’s Equatorial Palm Oil poised to illegally seize land in Liberia in defiance of government orders

This press release was launched as the UK-listed company, Equatorial Palm Oil, which is threatening to illegally seize land owned by Liberians in defiance of commitments made by Liberia’s President, received a visit from affected communities. Members of the Jogbahn Clan, together with representatives from Liberian and international NGOs, delivered a petition with over 80,000 signatures, reminding the company that it does not have community consent to expand onto their lands, and that doing so could escalate violence. EPO’s past operations in Liberia have triggered allegations of conflict and human rights abuses.

PDF iconEPO Press Release.pdf269.13 KB

NGO calls for action as report reveals EU’s deforestation footprint is twice as big as China and Japan’s combined

FERN's analysis of the European Commission study "The impact of EU consumption on deforestation" concludes that the EU should respond with a fully fledged Action Plan as it did with the problem of illegal logging. Deforestation embodied in agriculture is a complicated issue and cannot be solved through sustainability criteria, or the mandatory labelling of the forest footprint of (food) products.

PDF iconconsumption.pdf34.02 KB

New analysis shows the EU leading efforts to improve forest governance

This press release released to coincide with the launch of FERN's report Improving forest governance: A comparison on FLEGT VPAs and their impact concludes that we must learn from the VPAs and build on what works,the next step is to research the extent to which the VPA model can be used for other commodities and in other sectors.

PDF iconVPA comparisson PR.pdf77.93 KB


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.