“Forest governance and COVID-19: How can FLEGT support a green recovery from the pandemic?” Experience from the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme


On 14 October 2020, Member of the European Parliament Karin Karlsbro - in collaboration with Fern, the Centre for International Development and Training, University of Wolverhampton (CIDT), the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) - hosted a webinar on the importance of sustaining momentum for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) as part of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daphne Hewitt, Team Leader of the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), delivered a presentation on the experience of the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme in dealing with COVID-19 impacts.

Ms Hewitt spoke about the Programme’s actions to tackle COVID-19 impacts, including immediate outreach and support to partners, which allowed Programme activities to continue. In May 2020 the Programme conducted a rapid survey of 120 project implementation partners across Africa, Asia and Latin America, to garner a picture of the impacts of COVID 19 on projects and beneficiaries, and to identify possible mitigation measures.  “It soon became apparent that restrictions of movements caused by the pandemic have in some cases limited participation in decision-making processes as well as reduced field presence of forest authorities” reported Ms Hewitt.  “Another common finding is a great loss of economic opportunities due to the global slowdown in trade and an increase in the vulnerability of minority groups such as women and Indigenous Peoples”.

Ms Hewitt concluded her intervention with the delivery of four important takeaway messages for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • strengthening and expanding Independent Forest Monitoring  is more important than ever, to compensate for the reduced presence of forest authorities on the field;
  • civil society must maintain a strong engagement in FLEGT processes and good forest management more broadly;
  • the uptake of IT and remote communications tools are a priority going forward to help local suppliers provide information to buyers through digital platforms for market information;
  • facilitating e-commerce initiatives for legal timber trade, including those facilitating domestic legal timber trade, can help sustain the livelihoods of those who depend on forests. 

Ms Hewitt reminded participants that the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme is conducting two more in-depth surveys: one with  RECOFTC in seven Asian countries  looking at the contribution of Community Forestry to COVID-19 response and recovery, and a second one in the Congo basin, supported within the scope of a larger survey conducted by the Centre for International Development and Training, University of Wolverhampton, looking at the impacts of Covid-19 on Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, women and forest illegality.

Preliminary results of these surveys will be presented at a dedicated Webinar organized by the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, taking place on 28th October 2020.

For more information:

Fern website

Event recording

Fern event on Twitter

Event on 28 October 2020: Experience from Forest Communities of Covid-19 Impacts

CIDT website

RECOFTC website