An important milestone for promoting legal timber trade in Laos has been achieved with the finalization of the Forestry Legality Compendium. The final draft of this analysis was made available during the multi-stakeholder consultation workshop on 6 November 2015 for comment from relevant stakeholders from the Government, wood processing sector and civil society. The analysis is being supported by the Food and Agriculture Organizton (FAO)-World Bank Cooperative Program, the SUFORD-SU project (Scaling up participatory sustainable forest management project, financed by World Bank and Finnland) and the GIZ ProFLEGT project, as part of the Lao EU-FLEGT process (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade).
The Forestry Legality Compendium project has been undertaken to compile all relevant legal provisions and provide a summary analysis on the forestry legal framework, including legislation associated with forest and forestland and the use of forest products, including from production forest, plantations, forest conversion/concession areas and village use forests. It covers planning, harvesting, transportation, processing and trade in unprocessed and semi-processed wood and finished products.
“Since the regulatory framework governing the forestry sector is complex as well as affected by other legislation on natural resources and from the trade sectors, a lack of clarity is prevailing on which and how legislation is applicable and which authorities are responsible for execution. Legislation is partly inconsistent and redundant. As a result misinterpretation and misuse of legislations may occur at provincial, district and village levels”, said Mr. Khamphout Phandanouvong, Director General of Department of Forest Inspection. “The Forestry Legality Compendium will provide more clarity on the regulatory framework of the forestry sector and thus is vital to work towards sustainable forest management and good governance, and subsequently to increase forest cover to 70%, as specified in the forest strategy by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry”, Mr. Khamphout added.
“This groundbreaking analysis will provide policy makers with guidance on how and where to improve the legal framework for forestry”, said Mr. Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative to Laos. He continued: “National, provincial, district and village forestry authorities shall get more clarity on the scope of their mandates. Private enterprises and foreign investors shall benefit through better understanding and more clarity on administrative procedures.
“The Forestry Legality Compendium is a comprehensive review of the legal framework for the forestry sector in Laos along the supply chain of timber products – starting from forest land classification, demarcation, inventory, quota approval, management and harvesting, transport, processing and export,” said Mr. Heiko Woerner, senior international adviser to the German Development Cooperation project ‘Support to the Lao EU-FLEGT Process’ (ProFLEGT), implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). “This work will assist elaboration of the Timber Legality Definition, which is a core part of the FLEGT VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement), which the Lao Government is currently embarking on”, he added.
As part of the Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) to combat illegal logging globally, the European Union (EU) is concluding Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) with timber producing countries. A VPA is an international trade agreement to reduce illegal wood harvesting and promote legal timber trade.
Laos has started to negotiate such an agreement with the EU, with assistance from the GIZ project Support to the Lao EU-FLEGT process (ProFLEGT).
ProFLEGT is a joint initiative of the Lao Government and the German Development Cooperation. It is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (through the FLEGT Standing Office under the supervision of the Department of Forest Inspection, DOFI), Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, as well as other Government agencies, civil society organisations, academia and timber processing industry.
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