One year ago, forests and their crucial ecological and economic role were again at the forefront of the EU’s policy agenda. In June 2017, at the EU conference on illegal logging and deforestation, EU Commissioner for International Development Neven Mimica said: “Evidence shows that FLEGT remains an innovative, comprehensive and future-proof initiative, with the power to inspire a global movement to eradicate illegal logging. A long-term commitment is needed to tackle the complex issues that enable illegal logging to still persist, and to achieve sustainable forest management in line with Sustainable Development Goal 15.”
Indeed. But this commitment must materialise quickly through an ambitious work plan for implementing the FLEGT Action Plan to completion. The draft work plan presented to EU Member States in April 2018 is a step in the right direction, but the EU can do more, and better.
FLEGT must be part of the national package of solutions. Accelerating progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 includes bold action on forests. For millions of people living in poverty, forest resources provide not only food, fuel, medicine, shelter and clothing, they also function as safety nets in rural areas: more and more governments in producing countries are examining how community forestry could be linked to poverty reduction strategies. They could improve income and also provide an incentive to better manage and protect them.