We are researching timber procurement practices across UK and Europe to make sure that FLEGT is accepted within procurement criteria.


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Where is FLEGT?

Where is FLEGT?


What is FLEGT?

Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) is the EU’s response to the problem of illegal logging. The EU’s FLEGT Action Plan was established in 2003 to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber.


By supporting, protecting and developing the natural ecology, FLEGT helps the human ecology too, from local forest communities to UK businesses to the planet.


FLEGT licences show that a country manages its forests in line with forest management and environment laws, as well as labour and community welfare legislation. They show that logging rights have been granted according to the law, and that timber is legally harvested. The licences also confirm that products comply with legal requirements for trade and export, and that required taxes and fees are paid.

How does FLEGT work?

To export FLEGT-licensed timber products, a country must put in place a timber legality assurance system that controls the supply chain as wood moves from forest to factory to export.


This system can verify whether all operations along the supply chain happen according to the law. Independent forest observers track law enforcement activities and sound the alarm on potential fraud and system loopholes.


A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding bilateral trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU. Each VPA aims to ensure that timber and timber products imported into the EU from a partner country comply with the relevant laws of that country. Countries must apply for a VPA in order to become FLEGT-licensed.


To ensure every step of the timber production process is carried out with the highest regard for people and the environment, the transformation of the forest requires a robust and transparent system that is embedded in legal compliance at every point of the supply chain.


FLEGT licences only apply to timber products that Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) countries export to the EU. Timber products that have been verified as legal by a VPA country, but are exported to markets other than the EU do not obtain a FLEGT licence.

Where is FLEGT?

15 countries are implementing or negotiating VPAs. Together their forests cover an area the size of the EU and they account for 80% of EU tropical timber imports.


The map below illustrates past and ongoing FLEGT projects around the world.


FLEGT licences discourage illegal trade and level the playing field for law-abiding businesses. The advantage for EU traders is that FLEGT licences eliminate the risk of importing illegal products. Operators trading in FLEGT-licensed products do not need to undertake further due diligence, which can be time-consuming and costly. Authorities responsible for enforcing the EU Timber Regulation in EU Member States recognise FLEGT licences as proof of legality.


The advantage for partner countries is that FLEGT-licensed timber products are considered legal under the EU Timber Regulation, making it easier for EU operators to import their products. Once a country begins issuing FLEGT licences to products listed in its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), EU member states will not allow such products to enter the EU unless they have a valid FLEGT licence. FLEGT licensing strengthens legal trade and excludes illegal trade.

Illegality encourages corruption and undermines governance and civic duties. It affects the economy in three key ways: the economy is deprived of the tax to reinvest in people; distortion of the market by illegal loggers driving down timber prices; and increases the likelihood of conversion to other commodity land use, such as palm oil, cattle or soy.


This is why Trade stands for the final letter in FLEGT. Trade is a vital component in addressing the problem of illegal logging. Establishing a credible system of production and licensing which guarantees the provenance of timber means sustainable use of re-sources and makes it easier for businesses in the EU to import legal timber products.

Core pillars of FLEGT


Forest management aims to guarantee the forest’s sustainable economic, social and environmental purpose. Legal logging reduces carbon emissions from wanton forest degradation and will enhance forest carbon stock.


Sustainability is also enhanced through the promotion of silviculture. There are many different types of silviculture using different methods of tree cutting – selective cutting, clear cutting, strip cutting – but they are all practised with a view to tending forest rather than seeing it simply as a material resource.



With good regulation in place, the economy benefits, not just from the money that can be reinvested from the taxation of legal timber, or from the earnings going directly to the local communities, but also businesses who can invest in the production process and increased skills and capacity.


FLEGT gives access to global markets and helps the economic development of the country.



Social forestry tackles the issues of landscape and ownership, improves the skills and knowledge of local people and considers the different scales of community management.