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.
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.
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.
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.
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.