The new transitional government of the Central African Republic is in the process of drafting a new constitution, and, for the first time, many forest communities have been consulted about their country’s future. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the CAR and the EU is one of the tools that has been used by civil society actors to make their voices heard.
The Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest on Earth, and holds up to 25% of the world's forest-based carbon. Unchecked deforestation in the region here not only threatens the livelihoods of over 70 million people, it could also have a devastating impact on the planet’s climate.
Timber production provides a significant form of revenue for the Central African Republic (CAR). But regulating the timber industry there has been far from easy.
As the CAR prepares a new constitution, campaigners believe this as a great opportunity to strengthen the country’s forest governance.
Thanks to the work of NGOs, including Fern’s local partners, this was the first time many forest communities had been consulted about the future of their country.
One of the tools used by campaigners as leverage is the timber trade agreement being negotiated with the EU. Known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), its legally binding provisions have helped put forest governance high on the political agenda and enabled civil society participation in forest reform processes.
The VPAs are a key element of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process, which aims to improve forest governance and strengthen tenure rights of local communities, as well as controlling the import of illegal timber in the EU.