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Vietnam expects to have its VPA timber legality assurance system in place within two years, its FLEGT VPA Multi-stakeholder Core Group (MCG) heard at its fifth meeting in March. The MCG was set up in 2018 to provide a forum for stakeholders to discuss VPA implementation and propose issues for consideration by the Joint Implementation Committee.

The FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Programme has released over a quarter of a million dollars to finance stake holder communication on Vietnam’s FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Timber Legality Assurance System.

Forests need to be ‘front and centre’ of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the European Consensus on Development – and the EU FLEGT initiative can be one key to marrying forest maintenance and wider sustainability policy. That was the view expressed by European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, at the Our forests, our future conference in Brussels late April. (Photo left: Neven Mimica)

The Honduran government and the EU have approved Honduras’s FLEGT VPA 2019 annual operation plan and latest reports are that there is widespread support for the agreement, particularly in terms of levels of participation and engagement of the wider population. (Photo left: Allan Bergman)

The UK and Indonesia have signed an agreement committing the former to continued recognition of FLEGT licences after Brexit. The UK Department for Environment (Defra) confirmed the arrangement on its twitter page on March 29.

The PEFC officially endorsed the Indian Certification Standard for Sustainable Forest on 23 February. No forests have yet been certified under the standard, but Vijai Sharma, Chairman of The Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), maintained that sanction from the PEFC would now lead to ‘Indian forest managers further strengthening their sustainable forest management practices, in line with global standards and multilateral requirements’.

The Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) and ATIBT’s Fair & Precious (F&P) branding campaign are to collaborate in communications and marketing. Both initiatives promote verified sustainable tropical timber in Europe and highlight the role demand for it plays in incentivising the uptake of sustainable forest management in tropical supplier countries and in preserving tropical forest.

 The Guyana Environmental Protection Agency has run further capacity building workshops for community forest operators on legality compliance under its EU FLEGT programme. The latest events focused on the country’s ‘environmental authorisation process’ under its Environmental Protection Act. It attracted 86 operators taking the total number of participants at the EPA’s latest workshop series to 246.

ClientEarth has created an online portal providing links to sources of information on national forestry law worldwide.The environmental law charity says that the Forest Logbook hub is targeted at ‘forest defenders’ and managers, including lawyers, communities NGOs, importers, logging operators and regulators.

The IMM 2018 EU trade survey asked respondents whether FLEGT-licensing and the introduction of the EUTR had had any direct impact on the share of tropical timber in their overall timber imports. Chart 1 shows that the majority of respondents found that the share had not been directly affected by either.

Tropical timber imports to the EU have declined for over a decade now. The loss of market share was particularly pronounced in the period 2008-2012. Sales then stabilised up to 2016, before dipping again slightly. 

In 2017, the IMM EU trade survey had asked respondents to rate the competitiveness of VPA-implementing and FLEGT-licensing countries using a variety of indictors such as product range, quality, lead times and price. Results can be found in section 4 of the IMM 2017 Annual Report. This exercise was not repeated in 2018, as no major changes were expected to have occurred over such a limited period of time. The rating will be repeated and extended as a part of the 2019 survey.