FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

Panama: agreement signed to set up legal timber network


Forest stakeholders in Panama undertake to set up a legal timber network with a view to sustainably manage and harvest the country’s forests.

20 January 2017, Panama - Panama today signed the Agreement for the Establishment of the Legal Timber Network, which is intended to promote policies for the responsible purchase of forest products in the country.

This undertaking is part of the Initiative to Strengthen Forest Governance in Panama and is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under its FAO FLEGT Programme, with funding from the European Commission and Member States. The initiative is headed by Panama’s Ministry of the Environment together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), FAO FLEGT’s executing partner in the country, and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

The agreement seeks to promote responsible trade between timber producers and purchasers, whose products should come from legal sources and sustainably managed forests.

The Minister of the Environment, Mirei Endara, the Mayor of Panama City, José Isabel Blandón, and the Director of WWF’s Panama Office, Carlos Espinosa Peña, signed the Agreement on the Establishment of the Legal Timber Network in the presence of the FAO’s Coordinator for Central America, Tito Díaz, together with representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Díaz pointed out the importance of having a legal timber network comprising government, civil society, producers and private enterprises, and stressed that FAO’s experience in a number of countries has shown that the participation of the various sectors in making and implementing decisions regarding forest management, use and conservation contributes positively to poverty alleviation, food security and the mitigation of climate change.

Carlos Espinoza of WWF noted that “the initiative is a major step in efforts to eliminate illegal logging by turning the market into a force to protect Panama’s forests and facilitating commercial relations between the enterprises and institutions working to achieve and support forest management and responsible trade.”

The FAO FLEGT Programme works to support the European Union’s Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. Since 2008, the programme has given its support to more than 200 projects in approximately 40 timber-producing countries.

Indigenous communities, producers, traders and others

Panama’s Legal Timber Network is made up of representatives of forest production and trading companies, public organizations, indigenous groups and non-governmental organizations, with the further participation of representatives of technical cooperation bodies whose mission includes the promotion of support programmes and incentives to improve the legal, sustainable trade in forest products and by-products, as well as forest governance in the country.

Speaking about this important step, the Minister of the Environment, Mirei Endara, congratulated those involved for working together to equip Panama with clear policies on the sustainable use of forests and being the primary guarantors of this commitment. She went on to say: “Seventeen months ago the Ministry of the Environment set up the Timber Discussion Panel, with tasks that included the agreements we have signed today. This demonstrates that the country’s government and the key stakeholders in the forest sector can work together to achieve a market that is legal, safe and sustainable.”

Tito Díaz, FAO Coordinator for Central America, stressed that the opportunities for dialogue and consultation opened up by the network will allow such concrete results as the establishment of responsible forest-product purchasing and other government policies.

The Deputy Mayor of Panama City, Raisa Banfield, added that “for the Panama City’s Mayoral Office, it is not only an honour but also a privilege to be part of this initial responsible consumption group promoted by WWF and the Ministry of the Environment. Today, we see confirmation of the commitment already made in the Mayor’s Emission Reduction Pact and other commitments made by the Mayoral Office to promote responsible environmental practices and set the city on the path to environmental sustainability. This initiative confirms and strengthens the undertaking given. We hope that other institutions will join this initiative because our hope is that Panama will become a country responsible to its environment and its natural resources in order to guarantee them for future generations.”

The members of the Legal Timber Network undertake to incorporate policies for the responsible purchase of forest products into their actions and practices, with a view to ensuring that the management, harvesting, processing and marketing of forest products and by-products are carried out responsibly through the adoption of good practices, while also promoting the use of monitoring and control systems that ensure that forest production complies with current laws and regulations, and also show that products and by-products come from legally verified sources.

(First published by FAO Panama at http://www.fao.org/panama/noticias/detail-events/es/c/463822/)