In May, the European Commission (EC) published a comprehensive independent evaluation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan. The Plan encompasses the wide range of EU policy measures introduced over the last decade to support good forest governance and remove illegal wood from trade, ITTO reported.
Key amongst these are the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) now being implemented by six tropical countries and negotiated by another nine countries. The report assesses progress since the Plan’s publication in 2003 and makes recommendations for future action.
The report’s central conclusions are positive: the EU FLEGT Action Plan is assessed to be a relevant and innovative response to the challenge of illegal logging and to have improved forest governance in all target countries.
The report says the EU FLEGT Action Plan has been effective in terms of raising awareness of the problem of illegal logging at all levels, contributing to improved forest governance globally and particularly in partner producer countries, and has helped reduce demand for illegal timber in the EU.
The report’s recommendations imply that the Plan is heading in the right direction and not needing a major overhaul. “Main pillars and action areas should be retained, but FLEGT support to producing countries should be delivered in a more demand-driven and flexible manner, while bottlenecks affecting VPAs should be addressed and the private sector more involved”.
The report suggests that “the direct FLEGT objective of decreased EU imports of illegal wood is being achieved.
This observation is based largely on the results of interviews and perception surveys undertaken by the consultants both in the EU and producer countries over the last two years rather than any direct evidence from changes in trade flows.
Assessments of trade flows have yet to reveal any significant step change in trade that can readily attributed to measures such as the EUTR and VPAs which are central to the FLEGT Action Plan.