FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

Guyana, EU initial pact on legal timber, stronger forest sustainability


Guyana and the European Union (EU) today initialled a Voluntary Partnership Agreement, a binding trade pact that commits both sides to deal in legal timber products while strengthening forest governance and sustainable forest management.

The initialisation sets the stage for the future ratification of the agreement, a critical step in linking the large EU market, with over 500 million consumers, to timber and timber products from Guyana, a country with abundant tropical forest areas that cover more than three-quarters of its territory.

Under the agreement, Guyana can begin to implement the pledges it made, including a timber legality assurance system capable of verifying the legality of its timber products. These measures are essential for Guyana to obtain a Forest Law Enforcement, Government and Trade (FLEGT) licence, which would demonstrate that its timber is legal. This licence would ease Guyana’s exports of timber and timber products — not only to the EU, but to other countries developing similar processes to verify legal timber.

Building the capacity of stakeholders, including indigenous peoples’ organizations, to ensure their full involvement was an important element of negotiations towards the agreement. The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme continues to facilitate such capacity-building projects, as well as dialogue between multiple stakeholders, including the Guyana Forestry Commission, government agencies, civil society and private sector organizations, such as the Forest Products Association of Guyana.

“In simple words, it’s important to get people and institutions to talk with each other,” said Claus-Martin Eckelmann, FAO Regional Forestry Officer for the Caribbean. “Crossing through all of the (capacity-building) projects is the spirit of getting people and agencies, who have not had much contact with each other, to communicate and to address the problems which require the collaboration of multiple agencies and institutions.”

“This agreement also contains measures that are very important for reducing illegal logging and deforestation in Guyana, while strengthening sustainable forest management said Marc Vandenhaute, Forestry Officer with the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme. “This is a great achievement for Guyana. By initiating this agreement, it is also telling the world that it is serious about sustainable forest management,” said Vandenhaute.

Guyana is one of nine countries that are negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU; another six partner countries have signed VPAs with the EU. These agreements are one pillar of the FLEGT Action Plan, which the EU adopted in response to the global problem of illegal logging and associated trade. FAO-EU FLEGT is supporting projects in 23 countries that are working towards eventual FLEGT licences.

The EU is a major donor for the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, as is the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom.

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