David Hopkins talks FLEGT

David Hopkins talks FLEGT


David Hopkins talks about the challenges facing the timber industry, sustainable forest management, responsible forestry and FLEGT. 

One of the biggest challenges we face in the timber industry is one of perception. The timber industry obviously harvests trees. However, we are also responsible for planting far more of them than we cut down and managing forests for natural regeneration. In this way, we keep the balance sustainable and you’ll find that those areas with strong forest-based industries have strong growing forests.

Whilst this has been true across Europe and North America, the picture in developing tropical countries has been very different. So, I am very excited about the developments within FLEGT. FLEGT is part of the Europe’s Action Plan to combat illegal logging and deforestation. Countries across the tropical belt sign a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU to improve legal governance across their forest network, including sustainable action plans, auditing and other measures to keep it in check. In return they essentially get a free trade deal for their forest products into Europe.

European buyers get the reassurance that a product with a FLEGT licence comes from a legal source which is proving measures to improves the environment, and the social and economic conditions in those countries. It takes a long time for these VPAs to complete into a FLEGT licence, but they start to bring improvements from day one: with greater participation from civil society, investments in health, safety, education and employment.

By creating a solid legal framework, which involves all points of society, it also makes it a lot easier for businesses in those countries to then develop certification on their products, such as FSC or PEFC. It is a wholly positive transformation all round. The UK already recognises FLEGT licences as meeting the needs of the UK Timber Procurement Policy. But so many other procurement bodies are still unaware of this transformation through global forests. We are working now to change that.

There are fifteen countries that have signed Voluntary Partnership Agreements, with a huge range of timber species and products available from sawn timber, plywood, furniture and all points in between.

Buying a product with FLEGT licence means you are buying from a legal source where money is going back into environmental, economic and social improvements. We all have a role to play in the fight against climate change and deforestation; recognising FLEGT licensing timber products within your own timber purchasing decisions is one way to achieve that.

To learn more, watch our Sustainable Procurement Training video and keep an eye out for our upcoming FLEGT Training Module, to get ahead of the game. We’ll be back, with a lot more to come.