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.
The head of Tan Hoi village sits cross-legged on the floor describing the pressures his people face. “The older generation lacks education. The younger ones leave school as early as 11. Only one person has ever graduated from university as most people don’t have the resources to be able to afford it,” says Lê Văn Bức, a wiry, softly-spoken man in his 40s.
The major threat to tropical forests today comes not from loggers but from large-scale forest clearance to meet rising demand for agricultural commodities. Recognising this, governments and businesses around the world are increasingly pledging to eradicate deforestation from supply chains of such commodities.
On 21-23 June, the European Commission welcomes in Brussels stakeholders from around the world to discuss the way forward on tropical deforestation and illegal logging. The Illegal Logging and Deforestation conference will take stock of progress and explore opportunities for impactful future action.
The Government of Myanmar has committed to improving the country’s timber legality assurance system following the release of a report that analysed the “gaps” in the system in the context of internationally recognised principles, requirements and best practices.
Forest stakeholders in the Philippines have agreed on a ‘FLEGT roadmap’ to improve forest law enforcement, governance and trade through 2020. The plans were finalised at the first meeting of the Technical Working Group on Wood, whose members are from the government, civil society and the private sector.
Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) has raided companies, issued fines, suspended logging authorisations and opened court cases in response to recent reports by independent forest monitors there.