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Forest and illegal logging

News (update April 2011)

  • 15-17/03/2011 Fifth negotiation session with Liberia
  • 15-17/02/2011 First negotiation session with DRC
  • 19/01/11 Consents of the European Parliament to the conclusion of the FLEGT agreements with Congo and with Cameroon
  • 12-14/01/11 FLEGT 6th Annual Coordination meeting (Final Report , Final Projects Handbook )
  • 21/12/10 Initialing of the FLEGT agreement with the Central African Republic
  • 24/09/10 1st round of negotiations with Gabon

Illegal logging – issues

A major problem for many timber-producing developing countries, illegal logging:

  • causes environmental damage
  • costs governments billions of dollars in lost revenue
  • promotes corruption
  • undermines the rule of law and good governance
  • and in some places has financed armed conflict.

Consumer countries contribute to these problems by importing timber and wood products without ensuring they are legally sourced.

In recent years, however, producer and consumer countries alike have paid increasing attention to illegal logging.

Frequently asked questions on illegal logging – October 2010

Sources of additional information on external websites:

EU response – FLEGT action plan

The FLEGT action plan – adopted in 2003 – combines measures in producer and consumer countries to facilitate trade in legal timber and eliminate illegal timber trading with the EU, through measures such as:

  • support for timber–producing countries
  • activities to promote trade in legal timber
  • promoting ethical public procurement policies FLEGT licensed timber and EU Member State Procurement Policies
  • support for private-sector initiatives to promote corporate social responsibility
  • safeguards for financing and investment
  • use of existing legislative instruments or adoption of new laws to support the plan
  • addressing the problem of conflict timber.

Combating illegal logging - Lessons from the EU FLEGT Action Plan, Summary brochure (April 2014) pdf - 2 MB [2 MB]

The FLEGT action plan progress report (March 2011)

The policy brief of 2009 explains the FLEGT action plan in a comprehensible way



Commission action: voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs)

A VPA is a WTO-compatible trade agreement between a producer country and the EU to work together to stop illegal logging.
Although voluntary, VPAs are legally-binding on the 2 parties, once agreed.
Goals of VPAs

  • policy and legal reform
  • governance and transparency
  • capacity building
  • improve control, track & verify legal compliance
  • better capture revenues and rents
  • secure & improve market share

VPAs incorporate a national legality assurance system that:

  • defines what constitutes legal timber
  • verifies compliance with this definition
  • traces products from forest to export
  • licenses exports, to provide assurance to markets
  • independently checks all elements of the system

In each country, the VPA will need to take account of the inherent national differences in forest governance issues, forest-related legislation, the nature of forest and land rights, the nature of timber trade, current forest sector initiatives and the capacity to implement agreements.

In some developing countries, meeting these commitments will require considerable institutional strengthening and capacity building. VPAs will identify areas where there is a need for technical and financial assistance.

Series of briefing notes explain the EU's expectations for Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs):

Countries with VPAs

The agreements are being ratified and the legality assurance systems developed.

First FLEGT licence expected by 2011.

Countries currently negotiating

More related documents are available in I-Centre, and in European Commission – Environment

Lessons learnt from negotiations

  • Negotiations provide a platform to address difficult forest governance issues, clarify legal framework and improve technical systems
  • Time-bound, output-oriented stakeholder engagement helps foster understanding between stakeholders and make major, practical changes to VPAs
  • Bilateral negotiation dynamic can help build country ownership of results

Legal framework


Due diligence for timber products

Action is needed to tackle timber trade with countries that have not signed VPAs, since the FLEGT licensing scheme doesn’t deal directly with this.

To further support FLEGT, the Commission and EU governments have examined other options.

Consultation (2006)

A public consultation canvassed views on how to combat illegal logging and especially prevent the EU being a market for such timber.

A new regulation (2010)

The European Parliament and the Council have adopted a new regulation: Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market. (OJ L295/23 of 12 November 2010 )

This regulation introduces 3 obligations:

  • Prohibition of placing illegal timber on the EU market
  • Use of Due Diligence systems to ascertain that products are legal
  • Apply traceability systems

Timber from VPA countries will be considered legal, and traders will not have to implement specific due diligence measures. This provides an incentive for timber-producing countries to sign VPAs.

Q&A - EU timber due diligence proposal

Regional forest law enforcement

Regional initiatives have led to ministerial declarations in:

There are also regional processes in:

Those processes have created political support for forest governance reform initiatives linking producer and consumer countries, and in some cases have led to voluntary partnership agreements.

Regional timber studies


Commission action: support to FLEGT projects

Activities to implement the FLEGT action plan are financed through:

List of projects and contacts

FLEGT & climate change (REDD)

Tropical deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for almost 20% of global carbon emissions. In the framework of the Climate negotiations, REDD stands for "reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation". Some REDD actions support necessary policy and governance reforms.

Sources of additional information on external websites:

Last update: 24/04/2014 | Top