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Building on Forest Governance Reforms through FLEGT: The Best Way of Controlling Forests' Contribution to Climate Change?



Illegal logging is a major problem in the forestry sector, and legislation to combat it has recently been introduced in both the United States and the European Union (EU) – two of the world's largest importers of timber. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the timber industry have urged governments to use trade incentives to control illegalities, and this has been instrumental in the development of these laws. The Lacey Act, an American conservation law revised in 2008 to include illegal timber, requires businesses to demonstrate that their purchasing policies and mechanisms effectively avoid sourcing timber from illegal sources. Because tackling the problem depends on cooperation between importing and exporting countries, the EU has been working since 2002 on a comprehensive plan to control illegal timber imports: the EU Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). This Action Plan has led to new legislation to control illegal timber imports and help timber-producing countries to improve forest governance. It is hoped that in this way FLEGT will also contribute to keeping forests standing, thereby mitigating climate change. However, it is feared that World Bank and United Nations initiatives on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) may undermine the FLEGT initiative if they do not recognize the need to begin with forest governance reforms.