With making available a revised definition for legal timber, the Lao timber sector took a further step towards better accessing the EU market, where the import and sale of timber obtained through illegal logging is prohibited by law. The updated Timber Legality Definition was discussed at a Stakeholder-Workshop on 2 August 2017 including representatives from the Government of Laos, civil society organisations and the wood processing industry in preparation of the second negotiation with the EU on a FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
“A concrete definition of what legal timber is provides more clarity on the work towards sustainable forest management and good governance, subsequently resulting in an increase of forest cover to 70% as set in the forest strategy 2020”, explained Mr. Sousath Sayakoummane, Director General of Department of Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. “Via the Lao-EU FLEGT process, and particularly through improved timber flow monitoring in the pilot provinces, we can also contribute to the overall objectives of the Prime Minister Order No. 15”, he added.
“Lao PDR is engaged in a VPA process with the EU which aims to combat illegal logging and associated trade,” said Mr. Tim Dawson, an expert at the EU FLEGT Facility – European Forest Institute. “The FLEGT VPA process contributes to strengthening governance in the forest sector which also improves the foundations for sustainable forest management. Once the FLEGT VPA is fully operational, like in Indonesia which commenced its FLEGT Licensing system in 2016, a country’s timber products will be in full compliance with the EU Timber Regulation which prohibits the placement of illegal timber on the EU market,” he added.
Initiated by the Government of the Lao PDR and supported by various national and international stakeholders, the Lao-EU FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) process aims at promoting good forest governance and eliminating illegal logging activities in Laos. Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), bilateral trade agreements between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU, are central to this scheme. Among other things, VPAs address illegal logging and foster trade in legal timber products.
Under the VPA, Laos will then go on to develop and implement a so-called Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), which will be tested in the pilot provinces Khammouane and Attapeu prior to upscaling throughout the country.
Laos has started to negotiate such an agreement with the EU, with assistance from the German Development Cooperation’s project ‘Support to the Lao EU-FLEGT Process’ (ProFLEGT), implemented by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit).
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