Illegal logging undermines responsible forest management, encourages corruption and reduces income of the producer country; it has serious economic and social implications for the poor and disadvantaged. One of the key elements of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to tackle illegal logging are Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs). These agreements between wood producing countries and the EU aim to ensure that wood being exported to the EU is legal and that forest governance in the exporting country is improved. VPAs work by tackling the root causes of illegality, which include corruption and lack of clarity about land rights.
Every VPA has been based on the national laws of the timber producing country and has been negotiated in a fully participatory process, with social and environmental NGOs, community representatives, the timber industry and the government around the table. To date, all three signed VPAs have been endorsed by the government, civil society organisations and timber companies.
It is hoped that, once implemented, VPAs will contribute to improved forest governance and recognition of tenure rights of forest communities; help regulate the trade in illegal timber and reduce corruption.
In order to be successful, VPAs must:
- Be developed by consensus with the full and informed consent of all stakeholders and rightsholders
- Tackle corruption
- Recognise communities’ tenure rights over land, territories and resources
- Set up enforcement mechanisms
For more information see the slideshow below 'What are FLEGT VPAs?'