куќарка новости Fighting for forests
Fighting for forests Print E-mail
Written by ЕлкИче   
четврток, 21 октомври 2010 21:26

columnicon-legalEurope strengthens FLEGT regulations to combat illegal logging

By Aniko Nemeth

Trees and forests can provide far-reaching economic, social and environmental benefits to local communities, national economies and the global environment. In playing a multifaceted role, forests provide both wood and non-wood products, in addition to employment and income generation, energy and food production, and havens for recreation and urban escape. They also provide environmental services such as biodiversity conservation, nutrient cycling, and protection of microclimates, croplands and catchment areas. Carbon storage, tourism and possible genetic resources are further forest-related benefits. All of these services and benefits, however, are severely compromised today through the illegal harvesting and trading of timber.

legalmatters_logging_1Illegal logging and the trade of illegally logged timber is a substantial and/or growing problem for many countries. The serious environmental implications of such activity include biodiversity loss, deforestation and forest degradation, desertification and climate change. There are also devastating economic and social consequences, such as revenue loss for national governments and advanced levels of corruption which not only undermine the rule of law and good governance, but feed organised crime and tear at the social fabric. Illegal timber trade raises cross-border and international tensions by hindering sustainable development in affected regions.

Illegal logging thus undermines many essential elements of European development objectives: public-sector financing for development targeted at the poor, peace, security, good governance, the fight against corruption, and sustainable environmental management.


Important steps taken: more needed

In recent years, however, the European Community has strengthened efforts to achieve sustainable forest management, both within and outside the EU, by sharpening its focus on illegal logging.

In 2003 the EU adopted the Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) to address illegal logging-related problems. FLEGT sets out measures in producer and consumer countries to facilitate trade in legal timber and to eliminate illegal timber from EU trade. The range of measures includes: support to timber-producing countries; activities to promote trade in legal timber; promotion of public procurement policies; support for private-sector initiatives to promote corporate social responsibility; safeguards for financing and investment; use of existing legislative instruments or adoption of new legislation to support the Plan; and, efforts to tackle problems related to conflict timber.

In December 2005, the Council of the European Union agreed to Regulation No. 2173/2005 concerning a FLEGT licensing scheme and mandate for negotiating partnership agreements. In October 2008, implementation modalities of FLEGT licensing schemes for timber imports into the European Community were adopted through Commission Regulation No. 1024/2008, which aims to minimise the risk of illegally harvested timber and timber products being placed on the European market. The EC regulation requires traders to seek sufficient guarantees that their timber and timber products have been harvested according to relevant laws of the country of origin.

At the heart of the FLEGT Action Plan are voluntary partnership agreements with producer countries suffering the effects of illegal logging and poor forest governance. Timber products exported from FLEGT partner countries to the European Community should be covered by a FLEGT licence issued by the licensing authority of that country. The FLEGT licence should demonstrate the legality of the timber products covered, as set out in the corresponding FLEGT voluntary partnership agreement.

It is encouraging that a great deal of effort has been put into this European initiative to tackle illegal logging; however, these actions require complementary national, regional and international initiatives to strengthen these efforts and to develop cooperation, enhance law enforcement and prosecute forest-related activity — all of which will encourage the sustainable use of natural resources.

With a view to assisting international and European efforts, the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) is implementing a project under the ENVSEC Initiative on combating illegal logging in South-East Europe and Ukraine. Detailed information about this project and other envisaged activities can be found here.



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