Forest Law and Governance: Reports
Ten years since the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Action Plan was launched, and one month before the introduction of the EU Timber Regulation which makes it a criminal offence to put illegally sourced timber on the EU market, new research by FERN has shown strong forest governance improvements have already been achieved.
The EU FLEGT Action Plan includes the development of voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with timber producing countries. International and national NGOs have been part of their design, and have helped ensure VPAs include essential principles of forest governance. FERN’s research shows these have been largely respected.
This report charts the progress being made by the VPAs in encouraging forest reform and improved social justice in forests. It suggests that, while progress has not been universal — and forest exploiters are adept at finding the weakest link in any form of governance — the VPAs are succeeding. They are unique initiatives in governance. By providing a key to unlock wider actors in civil society, they offer a template for better governance far beyond the forests.
This report by land tenure specialist Liz Alden Wily documents the tenure situation in Gabon to inform, among others, ongoing discussions concerning FLEGT and REDD in the country. It starts by taking a historic look at Gabon. In 1899 virtually the entire country of Gabon was allocated to French logging companies. Before this, they had nearly two centuries of one of the most highly developed African trading regimes of the time, in which local clans serviced international slave and commodity trading. Since then, the people of Gabon have endured dispossession of their lands and resources, both in law and in practice.
While some customary use of land is upheld, no family or community can secure ownership of its traditional forests, arguably its most precious livelihood and capital asset. Colonial and post-colonial administrations have continued to hand over rights and resources to big business rather than invest in local initiatives. Rights-based reforms in land tenure and governance in Africa since the 1990s have simply passed Gabon by. The report details possible steps to remedy past injustices and move forward to respect communities’ rights to land in line with other countries in the region.
This report explains why ignoring key lessons from initiatives to control illegal logging (such as the EU's Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Action Plan (FLEGT) will lead REDD to a dead-end. It builds on FERN's nearly ten years of work aimed at improving forest governance in close co-operation with partners in the South. Over the past five years, significant progress has been made. Whilst it is still early days for both EU FLEGT and REDD+, unfortunately indications are that REDD+ is undermining any advances made so far with FLEGT.
Report by Liz Alden Wily that sets out to identify the current legal status of customary land interests in Cameroon. This report analyses what the law says concerning customary land rights, focuses on the forestry legislation in force and compares the situation in Cameroon to that in other African States. The report also suggests ways forward by describing what an optimal legal status of customary land rights would look like and what possible avenues can be found in the existing law.
This report by Liberian NGO SDI reflects on the state of forest law enforcement and governance in post-conflict Liberia. It catalogues the major flaws and illegalities that occurred during the handing out of forest concessions in the last few years. It reaffirms that the potential of the logging industry to deliver jobs and revenue is exaggerated – often intentionally so. Current developments in the forest sector point to a future of disappointment and conflict across communities, and sustained tension between the state (on one side) and those non-state actors and community representatives.The report presents recommendations with a special focus on how the government could return to the path of reform in order to get the forestry sector to work for Liberia and its people. It describes the EU FLEGT process under which the EU negotiates a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) as a positive step and includes clear recommendations for the EU, the Government of Liberia and civil society actors.
This report describes the different country proposals on the table to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in the lead up to a forest climate agreement to be agreed by the UNFCCC in December 2009. It looks at whether or not these proposals look beyond carbon values in forests and respect local peoples' rights.