Industry News

FAO FLEGT Programme launches Call for concept notes in VPA countries

The FAO Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Programme (FAO FLEGT Programme) is now accepting concept notes from government institutions, civil society and private sector organizations in timber-producing countries engaged in Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with the EU.

Eligible VPA Countries include: Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Guyana, Honduras.

In addition to a continuing focus on private sector, this Call will also value proposals seeking innovative and effective methods to integrate gender issues in the context of the forest governance aspects that are addressed.

Grants of up to US$ 110 000 are available through the project. The selection of proposals will be done through two phases. In the first phase, all eligible applicants are invited to submit concept notes. In the second phase, proponents of selected concept notes will be asked to submit full project proposals.

The deadline for submission of Concept Notes is 15 September 2016.

The Guidelines for the Call are available here, together with the Concept Note template that can be downloaded here.


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Myanmar national logging ban to run until Spring 2017

The new Government of Myanmar has agreed a temporary national logging ban and a 10-year logging ban in the Pegu Yoma region.

The national logging ban will run until the end of March 2017, in effect closing the forests for one complete logging season. All exports of round logs from the country have been banned since April 2014.

For the duration of the new national ban, Myanmar will rely on stockpiled timber to supply its domestic wood processing industry and the international market; current stockpiles are sufficient to meet current demand for up to three years.

Access to these stockpiles will be controlled by the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), a Government entity, and the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) stressed the importance of having controls in place to ensure full chain-of-custody for all stockpile sales to prevent illegally logged timber being laundered through the system.

As denounced by the EIA, between 2010-15, Myanmar lost 546,000 hectares of forests, about 8.5 per cent of its forest cover; only Brazil and Indonesia have worse rates.

A further reform expected to be announced by the Government will prohibit private companies from logging in the country. The MTE previously sub-contracted to private sector firms to carry out logging, many of which had close ties to the former military government and which played a key role in over-harvesting.

Faith Doherty, Team Leader of EIA’s Forests Campaign, said: “This is a decision that demonstrates clear intent to tackle corruption within the forestry sector by Myanmar’s National League for Democracy-led Government, which only came to power in March. Of course, there is no one-policy solution to the problem and much work remains to be done, but this is a hugely encouraging and an optimistic place to start.”


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BVRIO report confirms widespread irregularities in timber from Amazon

The BVRio Institute (iBVRio) has published a new report about the legality status of tropical timber produced in the Brazilian Amazon.

According to the publication - available here - more than 40% of the forest management operations in the Pará e Mato Grosso states are likely to be involved in severe breaches of the law, including timber theft from conservation areas or indigenous reserves, use of slave labour, and/or laundering of stolen timber by defrauding the official control systems. Only 10% of the cases analysed by iBVRio did not show any indication of irregularity.

Theses findings were obtained through big data analysis conducted by BVRio's Due Diligence and Risk Assessment System, cross-checking a wide range of data bases of information gathered from 100% of the logging and timber processing operations in the Pará and Mato Grosso states (which together produce more than 70% of the tropical timber from Brazil) since 2007.

The report also contains a description of the regulatory process for companies operating in the Amazon, the main types of fraud practiced by illegal operators, a review of different approaches for detecting and preventing illegality and a review of the impact of illegal logging on reducing demand for tropical timber from the Amazon.


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Global hardwood chips prices reach record low

The prices for globally traded hardwood chips fell to a record low in May 2016, while softwood chip prices reached the highest level in seven months, according to the latest FOEX Chip Price Indexes and Wood Resources International.

Global trade of hardwood chips have trended upward for six years and totaled almost 24 million tons in 2015. 

The FOEX softwood chip price index (PIX-SCG) has also fallen from a peak almost five years ago, but the price decline has been less dramatic than that of hardwood chips.

A majority of global softwood chip trade is in Europe, as opposed to the hardwood chip trade, which is concentrated to Asia.


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Ghana and Indonesia close to get FLEGT green light, new study says

Ghana and Indonesia are almost ready to issue FLEGT licences to exports of verified legal timber products bound for the EU, says a new joined study by the University of Florida and University of Amsterdam.

The research authors, Christine Overdevest of the University of Florida and Jonathan Zeitlin of the University of Amsterdam, underline that, even before the start of FLEGT licensing, VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) implementation has led to “substantially increased participation by civil society and other stakeholders in forest governance, greater transparency and accountability of forestry administration, and heightened recognition of community rights”.

As reported by, the benefits of VPA implementation to date include:

  • Support to small-scale producers: In both countries, the VPA process has focused attention on protecting the needs and livelihoods of small producers in the transition to the new timber legality regime – in Ghana through the domestic market policy and in Indonesia through subsidised group certification.
  • Improved capacity and control: The authors note that Ghana’s VPA timber legality assurance system has begun to transform the practice of the Forestry Commission, “enhancing its capacity for sustainable forest management through accelerated updating of plans and species maps, as well as for regulatory enforcement through the use of audit reports to detect and correct operational problems, including non-compliance with Social Responsibility Agreements.”
  • Closing doors to corruption: In both countries, the VPAs have helped improve administrative oversight in forest governance, including by curtailing the discretionary awards of concessions and harvesting permits, and have created new mechanisms for exposing corruption across the supply chain.

Zeitlin and Overdevest say the VPAs have gone far beyond their central aim of ensuring the legality of timber. In both countries, VPA processes have proven to be “remarkably incisive” frameworks for exposing and addressing broader issues through multistakeholder dialogue.

  • In Ghana, such issues include regulation of administrative permitting, payment of Timber Rights Fees by large concession holders, observance of Social Rights Agreements with local communities, and the construction of a legal small-scale milling sector to supply the domestic market.
  • In Indonesia, major issues addressed through the VPA process include integrated land use planning, reducing corruption in public administration and permit allocation, and recognition of indigenous peoples’ customary rights.

The researchers say the joint committees of EU and national representatives overseeing VPA implementation, with multistakeholder bodies reporting to them, have played crucial roles in addressing such issues by serving as “robust platforms for accountability, collective learning, and consensus formation”.

Overdevest and Zeitlin also highlight the ways VPAs have empowered civil society groups to expose gaps in VPA implementation, hold public authorities accountable for redressing them, and collaborate in developing mutually acceptable solutions.

“Civil society groups in turn have made an indispensable contribution to the effectiveness and legitimacy of the VPAs in both countries by feeding independent local knowledge about their on-the-ground operation into the joint review process with the EU on the one hand, while building domestic public and community support for their objectives on the other.”


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