EU, FAO step up efforts to combat illegal timber trade

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    The European Union (EU) and FAO have agreed to step up joint efforts to support tropical timber producing countries in curbing illegal logging, improving forest governance and promoting the trade of legally sourced timber. Doing so is expected to not only reduce the environmental impacts of illegal logging and mitigate climate change but will also boost the incomes and food security of forest communities by improving access to domestic and international wood markets.

    A $30 million funding agreement was formalized by Veronique Lorenzo of the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, and René Castro Salazar, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry, to support the next phase of FAO’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme, set to run through 2020. That sum includes approximately $18 million from the EU, $7.25 million from the United Kingdom and $5.3 million from the Government of Sweden.

    Illegal logging and associated trade costs governments an estimated $10-15 billion per year in lost tax revenues. It also undermines people’s livelihoods and robs them of income and food. And it is responsible for the degradation of large swathes of carbon-rich forests and vital wildlife habitats, contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss. Focus on empowering smallholders A key part of the new phase involves greater collaboration with private sector entities, big and small, in both producer and consumer countries, to address some of the bottlenecks to producing legal timber. This will involve looking specifically at empowering small- and medium forest enterprises in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, which employ some 140 million people worldwide.

    The idea is to help them to “go legal”, gain access to green markets and become active participants in the sustainable management of forest resources.

    Piloting new technologies to track timber To date, the FAO FLEGT Programme has supported over 200 projects in some 40 tropical timber producing countries throughout Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. Some of the most promising initiatives being piloted involve using new technologies to efficiently track the origin of wood. In Colombia, for example, the programme is supporting the use of digital android applications to strengthen tracking and control mechanisms by environmental authorities and guide consumers in purchasing legal and sustainable timber.

    Source: Climate Reporters

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