On 4 May, the European Commission (EC) published a comprehensive independent evaluation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. The report suggests that EUTR is beginning to change trade practices in those countries where implementation is more advanced, as ITTO reported.
Specific changes identified include: increased awareness on risk of illegal timber; increased import of certified timber and a push to certification in some producer countries; positive influence on legislation in producer countries; and some benefits emerging for legal producers due to exclusion of low priced illegal timber from the market.
To some extent these benefits are offset by negative changes including an increased cost and administrative burden on operators, the withdrawal of SMEs in producer countries from export markets, and confusion and concerns in producer countries due to the lack of harmonised implementation across EU countries.
The findings and recommendations of the report will now guide the EC in improving the efficiency, effectiveness and value-for-money of work undertaken to further implement the Action Plan.
The report will also guide the EC in assessing policies to address the broader drivers of deforestation, and in linking action under FLEGT to the international climate change and Sustainable Development Goals agendas.