FAO-EU FLEGT Programme


Illegal practices in the forest sector are driven by poor forest governance, unclear legal frameworks, weak law enforcement, and demand for cheap timber and timber products.  For local and national governments, illegal and informal practices in the forest sector lead to lost revenue and poor economic growth.  Beyond economic costs and unfair competition, illegal logging contributes to forest degradation and deforestation, biodiversity loss, and erodes livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, increasing the risks of conflicts over land and resources and disempowerment of forest-dependent communities and Indigenous Peoples. Ultimately, these activities seriously undermine efforts to improve sustainable forest management (SFM) and significantly impact a country’s ability to achieve broader sustainable development objectives such as poverty alleviation, food security, and climate change mitigation. 

Since 2009, FAO has collaborated with the European Union, United Kingdom, and Sweden to improve forest governance, law enforcement and the trade of legal timber through implementing three phases of dedicated initiatives that provided technical support and resources to over 560 projects in 45 countries. The third phase of the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme came to an end in June 2022 but FAO continues to support the legal and sustainable production and trade of timber products through the new Legal and Sustainable Wood Programme and a number of other initiatives.


What is "good" forest governance?

Forest governance is considered “good” or “responsible” when it:

  • adheres to the rule of law
  • is transparent and is free of corruption
  • involves stakeholders in decision-making
  • has equal rights for stakeholders
  • demonstrates accountability
  • has a low regulatory burden 
  • has a coherent set of laws and regulations within the forest sector, and in other sectors that influence forest management
  • properly implements laws
  • is politically stable
  • has demonstrated the capacity to govern efficiently and effectively


An absence of good governance is often at the root of illegal logging.