Indonesia and the European Commission agreed to tackle illegal logging after a meeting between M.S. Kaban, Indonesian Forestry Minister and Louis Michel and Stavros Dimas, the respective Commissioners for Development and Environment. This marks the beginning of formal negotiations towards a voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). This agreement will provide assurance that Indonesian forest products imported by the EU are verified to be legal. Similar formal VPA talks were initiated with Malaysia in September 2006. The agreement should foster cooperation between the partners and strengthen capacity building by conducting market and technical studies as well as knowledge-sharing. Commissioner Dimas emphasized: "Indonesia has played a leading role in placing illegal logging on the international agenda. The EU and Indonesia recognise that as consumers and producers of tropical timber we have a joint responsibility to eradicate illegal logging and move towards our shared goal of sustainable forest management."
Already in December 2006 Liberia's Forestry Development Authority announced that it is preparing a new bidding process for logging concessions following the lifting of the United Nations Security Council's three-year ban on Liberian timber exports. In July 2003, the UN Security Council considered Liberia's logging industry as a threat to peace and security since the revenue from timber had been used by former president Charles Taylor to fuel armed conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia. As a result, sanctions were imposed with significant consequences for the country's export earnings. The current government has implemented new legislation on logging to ensure revenue would benefit the whole country. Under the new law, Liberia's forests are to be divided into three categories: protected forests, forests for community timber activities, and forests for commercial logging. However, implementing the law will pose some challenge since a mechanism needs to be found how the forests should be shared among various communities, and how communities can best benefit from the forests. (by Dennis Taenzler)
The press release of the European Commission, can be found here
For more information on the issue "Illegal Logging", please see http://www.illegal-logging.info
For more information on the FLEGT process, please see http://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/flegt.htm
Published in: ECC-Newsletter, Februar 2007