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The promulgation of the Republic of the Congo’s (ROC) new Forest Code (Law 33-2020 July 8, 2020) marks a milestone for legal reform  that started  eight years ago.

The need for reform was partly prompted by negotiations for then entry into force of the country’s FLEGT VPA with the European Union (EU), requiring that all timber products, both exported and sold domestically, be produced legally.

The FSC has approved the Indonesian National Forest Stewardship Standard (NFSS) as compliant with its principles and criteria and says it took Indonesia’s SVLK timber legality assurance system (TLAS), FLEGT licensing status and PHPL sustainable forest management system into account in the process.

Implementation of a new Swiss timber regulation, equivalent to the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) has been further delayed, and now looks unlikely to happen before 2022. Often referred to as the ‘Swiss EUTR’, the regulation has been in discussion for several years. Besides reinforcing Swiss efforts  to combat illegal timber imports,

After several rounds of negotiations, the relevant ministries in Indonesia agreed to suspend a Ministry of Trade regulation (15/2020) that would have made V-Legal documents for timber and timber product exports voluntary as of 27 May 2020. At the same time, Indonesia decided to increase financial support for SVLK certification of MSMEs, according to a report by foresthints.news.

Independent forest monitoring capabilities in the Congo Basin are being revolutionised with the help of a collaborative project to strengthen the monitoring role of non-state actors. That’s the view of the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT), part of the UK’s University of Wolverhampton and the body leading the four-year Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C): Congo Basin Forest Monitoring Project . 

The January-March 2020  Briefing  Note from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP/WCMC) reports that the European Commission (EC) has commissioned a Study on Certification and Verification Schemes. This is targeted at CAs and operators, and will have a particular focus on forest and wood-based product certification and verification schemes in the context of EUTR implementation. 

A new study from the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) concludes that progress has been made towards many FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement targets in  three partner countries covered; Ghana, Cameroon and Indonesia. That includes in terms of reducing illegal logging, achieving greater industry transparency and engagement of small to medium sized businesses in the political agenda.

An online information resource, pooling articles, studies and a range of other materials on FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), has been created by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The open access FLEGT VPA Library targets researchers, government officials, civil society organizations and other actors involved in monitoring FLEGT VPA processes.

The inclusion of a specific prohibition on buying illegal timber in China’s forest law revision has been greeted as an important advance by government and NGOs. But they also identify potential gaps in its provisions and say more detail on administration and enforcement will be needed before it can be judged whether the amended legislation brings a major new combatant into the battle against the international illegal timber trade. 

The EU Commission is calling for public feedback on EU action to tackle illegal logging. This “fitness check” will, according to the Commission “look at the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU added value of both regulations in contributing to the fight against illegal logging globally. It will also include the implementing regulations of both instruments as well as the delegated regulation on Monitoring Organisations and will cover all Member States and relevant third countries”. 

The 11th meeting of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) between the Republic of the Congo and the European Union was held in Brazzaville on 20-21 November 2019. The aide-memoire of the meeting has been made available on the FLEGT VPA website.

A conference on “sustainable tropical timber” organised by IDH, the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative as a part of the International Sustainability Week in June opened dialogue on “the differences and synergies of FLEGT and certification”. The discussion was part of a wider event attempting to analyse the development of sustainable tropical timber imports in Europe and discuss lessons learned from the FLEGT VPA process in Ghana.