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What is EU FLEGT?

Illegal logging has a devastating effect on communities and biodiversity. It causes vast carbon emissions and can keep poor countries in a dangerous and damaging cycle of poverty and corruption. Despite this, illegal timber and wood-based products are unwittingly bought by consumers and companies, undermining efforts to deal with the issue by making illegal logging financially viable. Illegal logging is however also often an integral part of the economy, providing support for political parties and local communities. The challenge is therefore to tackle the root causes of illegality, which include corruption, lack of clarity about land rights and the excessive influence of the timber industry over forestry policies and legislation.

Legal forest use, when based on laws that are environmentally sound and socially just, can ensure environmental protection whilst providing livelihoods to some of the world’s poorest peoples. The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, and especially the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) between wood producing countries and the EU, aim to ensure that wood being sold in the EU can be shown to be legal.

VPAs are based on the national laws of each producing country, and to date all VPAs are endorsed by the government, civil society and companies. The law that needs to be enforced is agreed after an in-depth assessment of its relevance, and reforms to address weaknesses are made when they are deemed necessary. They ensure that wood can be traced from tree to the point of export. The result is that people in forest rich (but often poor) countries won’t have their precious resources stolen, and consumers can be more sure that they are not harming people and forests with their purchases.

For more detail about the FLEGT Action Plan please see our PowerPoint below: What is EU FLEGT?