The European Union and the Republic of Congo have announced a new agreement to ensure wood products exported from the Republic of Congo to the EU contain no illegally harvested timber and are derived from managed forests, says the European Forest Institute.
Congo exports about $330 million in timber products each year, about half of which are purchased by EU countries.
Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are the principle EU importers, but it has been difficult to confirm whether the produce has been derived from timber harvested legally, and the benefits from timber sales are shared with forest communities.
“With a total of 4,674,320 acres of certified forests as of March 2009, Congo has reached the highest echelon of tropical wood producing countries and is becoming a laboratory for sustainable forest management,” said Henri Djombo, Congo’s Minister of Forest Economy.
“The conclusion of this agreement will guarantee our country new opportunities in timber markets while participating in reinforcing governance in that sector and illustrating Congo’s political commitment to work in that direction.”
The legally binding agreement is known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which stems from European Commission’s 2003 Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) that is designed to halt the flow of illegal timber into EU markets.
It is the culmination of several years of work between the EU, the government of Republic of Congo, and NGOs that, rather than impose EU standards, allows the national government and various stakeholder groups to establish their own system for defining and enforcing legal requirements for timber sales.
Source: Eurek Alert
Filed under: deforestation, forestry sector, illegal logging, tree disease, tropical timber Tagged: | congo, deforestation, efi, EU, european commission, european forest institute, flegt, forestry, illegal timber, sustainable forestry management, vpa