The FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) South America is a project financed by the EU, focusing on improving forest management and controling the origin of timber, with a particular focus on Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Forest goods and services, including timber, represent a critical resource for the population and the national economy of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The total value of production of the timber sector in South America has increased by approximately one-third within the last two decades. However, a significant share of wood offered for sale is illegal. Some estimates claim that up to 80% of timber from natural forests in the Brazilian Amazon, Ecuador and Peru, and 40% from Colombia, has been harvested illegally. Government initiatives to address illegal activities are often fragmented and undermined.
In light of serious environmental, economic and social consequences of illegal logging, the European Union published the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan in 2003. It set out actions to prevent the import of illegal wood into the EU, to improve the supply of legal timber and to increase demand for wood coming from responsibly managed forests. To promote the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan in South America, a regional project focused on preventing the entry into supply chain of illegally harvested timber, and on promoting production of timber from legal and sustainable sources, was started in 2012.
This cooperation programme aimed to create an enabling environment and increase capacity in South America for developing initiatives that reduce illegal logging and bring timber trade in line with EU FLEGT objectives, with a particular focus on trade to the European Union from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
The project was implemented by TRAFFIC, with a total budget of €1 603 604, of which a maximum of €1 279 804 is the EU contribution. FLEGT was globally led by an international project manager based in the UK, guiding and supervising regional and EU work, and a regional project manager based in Quito (Ecuador). There is also a project team in each of the four South American project countries, and in the EU.
The project’s specific objectives were:
- To ensure that key stakeholder groups within Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have: a clear understanding of the intent and content of the EU-FLEGT Action Plan, the opportunities it provides, and pathways for its implementation
- To inform on the efforts of the European Commission, the competent authorities of EU Member States, and timber traders regarding producer country activities and procedures linked to implementing FLEGT in South America.
- To establish a benchmark against which to measure changes in forest governance, including levels of illegal logging and trade, catalysed by FLEGT and other initiatives, in the target countries.
- In order to achieve those goals, several activities were implemented throughout the programme's duration, among others:
- FLEGT briefings in Spanish and Portuguese
- Briefing events on FLEGT
- National scoping and forest governance indicator studies
- Benchmarking study on forest governance
- National training modules (including distance and e-learning tools) on FLEGT compliance
- Evaluation of FLEGT opportunities for public and private sector actors
- Expert meetings and consultations on interrelationship of FLEGT and other major initiatives
- Analysis complementarity of project country initiatives with FLEGT requirements
- Liaison with key EU importing companies and relevant EU authorities and trade associations
- Regional conference on FLEGT.
The project realised a final activity with the organisation of an international Forum 'Governance Legality Verification Systems, and Competitiveness in the Latin American Forest Sector' in Quito, Ecuador (30/10– 3/11/2014), that facilitated exchange of experiences and knowledge among representatives of private and public sectors from the countries participating in the programme, international organisations and indigenous communities. Among the key conclusions, participants agreed on the need of coordinating public and private sector and civil society at various levels in order to create common strategies, with differentiated responsibilities and monitoring processes to ensure the proper implementation of forest legality in the country.