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Forest Law and Governance: Recommended reading

Palm oil, land rights and ecosystem services in Gbarpolu County, Liberia

This case study of a plam oil concession in Liberia highlights wider policy considerations regarding large-scale land acquisitions in the global South including the need for both formal mechanisms to ensure free, prior and informed consent; and rigorous environmental and social impact assessments before operations start. Reading University was commissioned by FERN's partner Sustainable DeveIopment Institute in Liberia to carry out this independent social and environmental impact assessment of part of Sime Darby's concession area where the planting has not (yet) started.

Multinational Corporations and their Impact on Rural Community Rights to Land and Natural Resources

This report from Robert Lawrence Nyahn of Save my Future Foundation Liberia finds that if the motivation for issuing concessions for multinational corporations is to lift ordinary Liberian citizens out of poverty, then it has become evident that the reality on the ground does not reflect those aims: the concessionaires’ operations are negatively and significantly impacting on rural communities in a way that outweighs the projected benefits, and the concessions are depriving rural people who have lived and managed that land for centuries of their livelihood and ownership rights. It goes on to state that there is a need to develop a clear, universal standard for the acquisition of land and natural resources by corporations, that works to protect the rights of those rural people who are not categorised as indigenous or tribal people and hence do not enjoy the same protection under international human rights law. Such a standard is essential to protect both the rights of communities and the growth prospects of developing countries, if they are to rise out of poverty.

PDF iconFINALREPORT_Liberia_2.pdf662.36 KB

Uncertain Futures: The impacts of Sime Darby on communities in Liberia

Large-scale land grants totaling more than 1.5 million acres to Sime Darby and Golden Veroleum for oil palm and rubber plantations jeopardizes land rights of local populations, threatens local livelihoods and wellbeing of communities, and puts the future viability of one of the world’s most significant biodiversity hotspots into doubt. Uncertain Futures, released by the Liberian NGO Sustainable Development Institute, presents testimonies of people affected by Sime Darby operations in western Liberia and highlights the fears of others where the company plans to expand in the coming years.

According to the report, “the situation facing communities impacted by the expansion of Sime Darby’s plantation in Garwula District, western Liberia is dire: the plantation is on their doorsteps, and their farms and farmlands are being swallowed up by it. There are very few alternative livelihood options.” According to locals interviewed for the report, Sime Darby did not pay compensation for farm lands to them. They also claim that compensation paid for crops that had been destroyed was inadequate and that forest areas used for cultural practices had also been destroyed and planted with oil palm. 

PDF iconuncertain futures_baja.pdf1.56 MB

Central African Republic civil society counterbrief

On 21 December 2010 the government of the Central African Republic  and the European Union signed a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement  to tackle illegal logging. This briefing presents the point of view of civil society in Central African Republic and the EU, looking at what was in the signed agreement, what is at stake, and the challenges to implementation. It shows that the economic and social development goals of the VPA cannot be attained without respect for the rights of forest communities and the environment, and genuine political will.


PDF iconAPV CAR_ENG 07-2012 w AB.pdf643.23 KB

Rethinking timber trade agreements

This short article by Saskia Ozinga for Bridges Trade and Environment Review looks at EU forestry partnerships. The article states that with the voluntary partnership agreements with timber producing countries, the EU has established a new trade mechanism set to steer countries towards sustainable forestry practices. The comprehensive approach taken to good governance has yielded positive societal and environmental outcomes. Current initiatives under the climate regimes focusing more narrowly on forest carbon threaten to undo some of these. The article concludes that the voluntary partnership process could provide valuable lessons for forestry initiatives under the climate regime.

Strategies to Prevent Illegal Logging

This article was written by Saskia Ozinga and Hannah Mowatt for the second edition of "A Handbook of Globalisation and Environmental Policy." It compares the EU's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT), the US Lacey Act and schemes to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). The book will be published in December 2011.

Central America’s first VPA? Perspectives on FLEGT in Honduras

In early April 2011, and following some initial contacts between Honduras and the European Union (EU) in mid-2010, a series of meetings and workshops were held in Honduras with the objective to explore the potential negotiation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between both parties.

This briefing provides information about progress achieved so far, and reflects on the opportunities for and challenges to successful negotiation – and implementation – of a VPA. It is aimed at stakeholders both in Honduras and the EU, as well as the international community working on VPAs in other countries around the world.
PDF iconHonduras loggingoff briefing.pdf479.55 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.