The UK and Indonesia have signed an agreement committing the former to continued recognition of FLEGT licences after Brexit. The UK Department for Environment (Defra) confirmed the arrangement on its twitter page on March 29.
The PEFC officially endorsed the Indian Certification Standard for Sustainable Forest on 23 February. No forests have yet been certified under the standard, but Vijai Sharma, Chairman of The Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), maintained that sanction from the PEFC would now lead to ‘Indian forest managers further strengthening their sustainable forest management practices, in line with global standards and multilateral requirements’.
ClientEarth has created an online portal providing links to sources of information on national forestry law worldwide.The environmental law charity says that the Forest Logbook hub is targeted at ‘forest defenders’ and managers, including lawyers, communities NGOs, importers, logging operators and regulators.
Ghana demonstrated its Wood Tracking System and other elements of its Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) to stakeholders from Republic of Congo (RoC) and Laos in a five-day event at the end of November. The multi-country information exchange included two conference days and a three-day field trip to the forest and timber processing companies in the Sefwi-Wiawso forest district in western Ghana.
The signature by the EU and Vietnam of the latter’s FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement is scheduled for later this year, with ratification in 2019. They are being heralded as critical staging posts, and important moments both practically and psychologically, in the country’s progress towards full VPA implementation and its start of FLEGT licensing of timber and wood product exports to the EU.
The FLEGT licensed information point is expanding its information for timber buyers. Recent IMM trade consultations revealed that the trade advantages of FLEGT licensed timber are relatively well-known. However, the private sector is keen to learn more about, and articulate to their clients, the social, economic and environmental benefits of FLEGT licensed timber.
The Joint Implementation Committee for the Indonesian VPA met on 1 March 2018 in Jakarta to review experience with the first 15 months of licensing. According to information from the Indonesian SILK database and the Licensing Information Unit (LIU), more than 39,000 FLEGT licenses were issued during 2017. This means that FLEGT-licenses accounted for 18.2% of all V-Legal documents – paperwork accompanying Indonesian exports globally and guaranteeing timber legality – issued during that period.
Comment from the EFI FLEGT-Facility: A quiet revolution has transformed Ghana’s forestry sector, laying the foundations for sustainable development, greater benefits for communities and improved access to international markets. One recent development is the Ghana Timber Transparency Portal, the result of a collaboration between the Forestry Commission and civil society organisation Civic Response.
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) has conducted an analysis of Ghana’s FLEGT VPA requirements compared to requirements of Ghana’s National Forest Certification System, which is expected to obtain PEFC-endorsement in early 2019. The study identified significant synergies and complementarity between FLEGT and certification requirements and concluded that, while “working at different levels in many regards”, the ultimate outcomes would be complementary: “improving forest management and combating illegal logging and associated trade”.
The establishment of FLEGT VPAs with Central African timber producers has been a welcome and positive development, with longer term potential for facilitating trade with EU customers. However, to date the fact that African countries have signed VPAs and are hopefully progressing towards their full implementation and ultimately FLEGT licensing, has not impacted on day-to-day business. Currently EU operators still feel they are having to put suppliers in VPA-engaged African countries through as searching due diligence as ever to comply with the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, and this can be a time-consuming, arduous business. If the VPA process prior to FLEGT licensing can in anyway simplify or streamline EUTR due diligence procedure, it is not sufficiently explained or understood in the marketplace.
With further support, development and communication FLEGT and FLEGT licensing can play a role in underpinning tropical timber product market share in the highly competitive European furniture sector, according to the latest IMM survey.The core aim of the IMM study of procurement in the EU furniture industry is to gauge the sector’s perceptions of the value, impacts and process of sourcing from FLEGT VPA engaged supplier countries.
Vietnam expects to have its VPA timber legality assurance system in place within two years, its FLEGT VPA Multi-stakeholder Core Group (MCG) heard at its fifth meeting in March. The MCG was set up in 2018 to provide a forum for stakeholders to discuss VPA implementation and propose issues for consideration by the Joint Implementation Committee.