Tropical forests and those who depend on them are at greatest risk where their governance is weak. The Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) that the EU - and, post-Brexit, the UK independently - establishes with forested countries, aim to tackle illegal logging through supporting governance reforms. These timber trade deals are a key part of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, a pioneering range of measures to im-prove how forests are used, and end the illegal timber trade.
VPAs seek to change how tropical forests are owned and managed by using trade, along with deliberative multilateral negotiations, as leverage to include civil society and forest communities in revising or formulating new, more just laws in timber-producing countries. VPAs also aim to create the conditions for those laws to be effectively and fairly enforced.
This briefing summarises Fern’s evaluation of VPAs’ progress in Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia, Liberia, Republic of Congo and Vietnam from May 2018 to November 2020, though background information from before 2018 is included where relevant. The research is based on interviews with civil society networks that coordinate efforts to improve their countries’ forest sectors (see Source material - research and notes from interviews).