The European Union’s support to the FLEGT Regulation will help determine the future direction of forest monitoring.
The Congo Basin’s Forest sector is extremely vulnerable to poor governance. In many countries from Vietnam to Cameroon, from Honduras to Indonesia, the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreements (FLEGT-VPAs) boost Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) by permitting civil society and communities to monitor law enforcement and logging. This helps governments better understand the threats facing forests, and enables resource-dependent peoples to claim the rights and benefits to which they are entitled. IFM will also prove crucial to future anti-deforestation regulations being planned in the EU and elsewhere.
At a time when FLEGT-VPAs may be in jeopardy (), the partners featured in this newsletter demonstrate the relevance of putting people at the centre of efforts to preserve nature and stimulate accountability. Importantly, they also highlight further opportunities for integrating monitoring approaches, extending beyond forests and forestry, to other land uses and related natural ecosystems. Protecting these resources is not only important to forest-sector policies, but also to achieve climate and biodiversity objectives. However, civil society still faces significant challenges in accessing funds to fulfil their IFM role.
As those on the ground attest, FLEGT-VPAs remain an essential, if long-term investment in the transparency, participation and accountability needed to bring positive changes to forest governance, and in civil society’s capacity to monitor these changes. The Commission should heed local forest defenders and clearly confirm support for FLEGT-VPAs as the EU’s flagship supply-side measure to combat illegal logging and deforestation.