It’s a myth that money doesn’t grow on trees — a glance at any timber baron’s bank balance would confirm that. But for people living near tropical forests it has long been clear that when money flows to logging companies, there is little left behind for local development. Now, in Liberia, that is all changing, thanks in part to a trade deal called a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) the country negotiated with the EU.
Twenty-two years ago Global Witness cut its teeth exposing the trade in conflict timber in war-torn Cambodia. Posing as European timber buyers, my colleagues and I exposed how the genocidal Khmer Rouge was selling wood to logging companies just across the border in Thailand.
Representatives of the EU and Liberia have identified ways to boost implementation of their Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to address illegal logging, improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber products.
The answer to stemming the flow of migrants from troubled countries is not concrete walls and stricter laws – as British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump would have us believe. There’s no silver bullet to this complex challenge, but a more promising solution is to help improve the economy and rule of law in the migrants’ home nations.
The EU FLEGT Facility has published a briefing based on research into flows of timber and investments between the China and the six countries that have signed Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with the EU.
By highlighting the decade of successes already achieved during the negotiation and implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreements to end illegal logging, civil society from timber producing countries explain where EU policy should go next.
Transitions from war are tough. When grievances smolder and economies fail to recover, most countries fall into a “conflict trap” and war resumes. To escape the trap, post-conflict governments often exploit forests, minerals, and other natural resources to jump-start war-torn economies.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a new publication that can provide insight to countries and businesses establishing successful timber traceability systems.