Regulatory inspection and verification functions are one of the key elements of the Lao TLAS to support and verify the legal compliance of timber legality definitions (TLDs) and supply chain control (SCC) of operators. With the support of the GIZ Project “Protection and sustainable use of forests and biodiversity” (ProFEB), TWG members representing line ministries, the Provincial Office of Forest Inspections, and the private sector met on 08th – 10th June 2022 to discuss and agree on the regulatory inspection and verification functions in TLAS implementation. They agreed that regulatory inspection bodies are responsible for supporting and following up on the implementation of TLDs and SCC of timber producers, wood processors, and timber traders to generate a database for the information management system (IMS), whereas the verification bodies are responsible for verification function by using such database in the IMS to verify the compliance of TLDs and SCC of timber producers, wood processors and timber traders to ensure the timber legality before sales or export. This is to issue a letter of no objection to licensing authority to issue an export license to operators. They also agreed that an information management system (IMS) shall be developed to share information between regulatory inspection bodies and verification bodies to facilitate the implementation of the LaoTLAS.
Following this TWG meeting, the TWG members also conducted piloting in Khammouane Province from 22nd to 26th June 2022 to test the compliance of TLD5 “Plantation timber”, TLD6 “Confiscated timber” and TLD7 “Labor obligations”, TLD8 “Wood processing and trade” and supply chain control in wood processing in Khammouane Province. The objectives of piloting were to: (i) assess the regulatory inspection functions at the district level, (ii) verify the legal compliance of timber sources and wood processing requirements of selected companies, and (iii) draw lessons learned from piloting to improve the text of LaoTLAS. They visited plantation registration at Hinboun District Agriculture and Forestry Office and export operation of Hinboun District Office of Industry and Commerce. To fulfill regulatory inspection functions and working environment at the local level, capacity building and necessary tools and equipment need to be provided to them.
In addition, they also visited the plantation and plantation timber processing of Mekong Timber Plantations, plantation timber processing of Visith Company, and confiscated timber processing of Phetdavanh Company. Generally, the records of timber input and output were implemented by all companies, but compliance with all requirements of TLDs and SCC under Decision 0777 needs to be improved. Once all TLDs and SCCs are finalized and approved, dissemination needs to be reached out to all companies including providing capacity building to them to ensure the timber legality before sales or export. Based on the results of the consultation meeting and piloting, the next steps are to improve the text of TLAS and consider improving the future working environment of regulatory inspection bodies and verification bodies at provincial and district levels to ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of Lao TLAS.