Timber legality: a pivotal factor in halting deforestation and increasing forest area

©FAO/Roberto Cenciarelli21 February 2018, Rome — Sustainable value chains that reinforce the legal production, sale and purchase of timber are integral to good forest governance and to efforts to halt deforestation and increase the world’s forest areas, according to experts in a panel session at the international conference, “Working across Sectors to Halt Deforestation and Increase Forest Area – from Aspiration to Action.”

Participants in the session, entitled the “Role of forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) instruments in halting deforestation,” heard of experiences that demonstrate how successful initiatives are centred in both the public and private spheres. While forest policy and regulations are drafted in the public sector, the private sector is responsible for compliance while representing the major source of demand for timber. The session included representatives from governments, the legal profession, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

Several countries are making progress in embedding measures on timber legality in national legislation to address governance challenges and to strengthen law enforcement, particularly regarding supply. However, to be fully effective, such actions must also address factors influencing demand, such as commercial codes of practice in the private sector, and the need for robust standard setting for purchase of legal-timber by governments in consumer countries.

‘‘Addressing governance issues is often a precondition to ensuring that timber is harvested legally and sustainably,” said Robert Simpson, Manager of the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme. “Adopting an approach such as the measures provided in the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan allows stakeholders to have greater ownership of measures to improve governance. This has strengthened multi-stakeholder processes and made decision-making more transparent and inclusive, while contributing to clearer legal frameworks that make it easier for producers to avoid illegal practices and for consumer countries to know that the wood they are importing has been harvested sustainably.”

The international conference is organized by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), supported by the European Union (EU) with the Governments of Austria, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands, and is hosted by FAO at its headquarters in Rome. It opened on Tuesday and has brought together a broad spectrum of experts and practitioners from across several sectors to consider the measures needed to halt deforestation. A variety of approaches are under discussion, including integrated landscape management and the role of agricultural commodities and their production and supply chains to innovative technologies and financial instruments. 

Forest goods and services generate multiple benefits in the implementation of several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and forests feature significantly in SDG 15 – Life on Land – where, through sustainable forest management, their role is pivotal to meeting target SDG 15.2 of halting deforestation by 2020. 

Visit the website of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests’ international conference, ‘’Working across Sectors to Halt Deforestation and Increase Forest Area – from Aspiration to Action,’’ which is being hosted at FAO headquarters in Rome from 20 to 22 February 2018, for more information and to follow the main proceedings via live webcast. 

last updated:  Thursday, February 22, 2018