Congo close to forest protection accord

Congo VPAs

Yesterday, Congo drew one step closer to an anti-illegal logging deal with the European Union. Known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), it aims to ensure all timber brought into the EU comes from countries that have signed up to this novel scheme. Congo ratified the agreement after lengthy negotiations between government, industries, civil society and the EU. It will now set up a Joint Implementation Committee to oversee implementation of the VPA

Committee duties include:

-    Reporting on implementation
-    Monitoring and evaluation
-    Examining complaints about the functioning of the FLEGT licensing scheme
-    Ensuring the participation of civil society organisations and other interested groups in implementing the VPA.
-    Amending annexes like the legality grid

The FLEGT licensing system needs several key components before it can be fully operational, including legal reforms, a sustainable independent monitoring system and a traceability system.

We will continue to work with civil society to support of the process. For more information, watch this space.

photo by: Ana_Cotta

One Comment

  1. -

    If this article concerns Republic of Congo (capital Brazzaville) not Democratic Republic of Congo (capital Kinshasa), it would be interesting to have clarification whether:
    a) the logs which are being exported from the country to China in excess of the allowable percentage of production (15%) – these logs account for most of the timber being exported Republic of Congo and it is understood that fines due to these excess logs are not being paid;
    b) timber from the concessions which have been allocated to the President’s daughter (or otherwise by Ministerial or Presidential whim) will be regarded as legal by the VPA (and EC Regulation 995/2010), and
    c) whether timber from the concessions which are being logged for export by contractors rather than their concessionaire will be regarded as legal by the VPA (- “fermage” is presumably illegal, and probably accounts for a substantial share of the logs which one of the largest and most controversial logging groups in the country exports).

    These questions are relevant not least because the VPA concerns exports to all destinations, including China – although all destination countries other than those of the EU will be able to freely import timber which is not accompanied by a FLEGT-license (placing timber companies in the EU at a competitive disadvantage).

    Unless the corruption and abuse of power which tends to be central to export-oriented resource exploitation in tropical countries and elsewhere is stopped, not only will forest be allocated for conversion for mining or agri-business – accelerating climate change – but REDD+ can not succeed. The VPA and EC Regulation 995/2010 must not launder illegality.

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