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 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.
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 European Union and Laos held their first negotiations towards a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber products, when they met on 24-28 April in Vientiane.
When civil society organisations in Indonesia began proposing ways to end illegal logging, they knew they had a mountain to climb. In 2002, some 80 percent of logging there was illegally. Corruption and conflict were widespread. Trust was lacking.