FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

Viet Nam: Business learns to engage with work in legal timber production and trade

Viet Nam, a major timber importing and processing country, has seen exponential growth of its forest-based industries over the past decade. Besides importing timber from some 80 countries across Asia, Africa and South America, Viet Nam exports timber products worth USD 7 billion1 to major markets worldwide. This includes trade in timber products with the European Union (EU) worth USD 736 million. To expand trade and ensure access to the EU market, Viet Nam and the EU have developed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). This legally binding bilateral trade agreement centers on implementation of Viet Nam’s Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) which defines and verifies legal timber and leads to Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licenses that expedite access to the EU market. The broader objective of the VPA is to improve forest governance in Viet Nam, combat illegal logging, and promote trade in verified legal timber products.

Benin: Government agency blazes a trail for traceability

Tracing wood back to the forest it came from is essential to eliminating illegal logging. The National Timber Office of Benin (ONAB), with assistance from the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme, established an innovative traceability system for its teak plantations that helps prevent illegal logging, transport or sale of state timber. ONATRACK uses smartphones to send real-time information from the forest to the office, and uses barcodes to track the timber. This is a first step to demonstrating that timber is produced legally, and will eventually increase market access for the small and medium enterprises that process and export state timber. The system is so successful it is now used in all state plantations in Benin, positioning the country as a traceability leader in West Africa.

Ghana: Championing rights and fair compensation for forest communities

Ghana’s work to promote the legal timber trade in partnership with the European Union (EU) places a strong emphasis on involving local communities who live in or near forests. Yet farmers and communities do not always understand their rights, which means that illegal activity by loggers has gone unchecked in Ghana’s off-reserve forests. The FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme supported a non-profit association, Sustainable Forest Management Partnership-Ghana, to increase awareness among farmers of their right to negotiate compensation when logging damages crops on their land. The project successfully fostered understanding among farmers and local communities of their entitlements, and also helped loggers better grasp their own responsibilities under the law. The project helped to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by improving local livelihoods and strengthening forest governance by increasing transparency.