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Everything you wanted to know about FLEGT

Answering questions generated through our Conversations about Climate Change competition, exhibition and event series, David Hopkins divulges into ‘Everything you wanted to know about FLEGT but were afraid to ask’.

Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) is the EU’s Action Plan to eradicate illegal logging and associated trade. Working with fifteen tropical countries to establish their own country specific laws, governance and enforcement strategies known as Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), FLEGT enables these countries to strengthen trade links with Europe and for all stakeholders to benefit from responsible timber harvesting. To date, it could be viewed that the majority of the work that the FLEGT Action Plan and countries VPA goes on behind the scene, working with stakeholders in countries negotiating, implementing or having achieved FLEGT status.

As part of the Timber Trade Federations FLEGT Communications Project, we are raising awareness of FLEGT, education around responsible sourcing and trade and encouraging engagement into procurement policies and specification. All of the timber for our Conversations about Climate Change exhibition is sourced from VPA countries working towards FLEGT licensing.

Why are we encouraging the use of tropical timbers through the FLEGT Action Plan / competition?

We are not encouraging the uses of tropical timbers per say, but rather for people to understand where their materials come from and the impact, environmentally, that their choices can have. This is especially true when we look at products from tropical forest areas and countries. We want to make sure that the choices we make from these areas have a positive impact throughout the supply chain.

In our Conversations about Climate Change design competition, we are showcasing tropical hardwood species from countries that have signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), with aspirations towards achieving a FLEGT-licensed for their timber and timber products. This involves this introduction of country-specific, strong legal and governance framework within each country – to ensure that forests are managed according to appropriate laws and practices. It helps eradicate illegal logging and related illegal activity, to ensure forests are managed for the benefits of all.

How can you decrease the desirability of particularly threatened and rare species by increasing the desirability of more sustainably species? Tom Svilans, PhD researcher, engineered timber construction

There have been a lot of efforts to promote of the use of Lesser Known Timber Species (LKTS). This would help elevate pressure on timber stocks and increase biodiversity within forests. One of the ways to do this is to educate specifies about the range of species available, where they come from and what their design properties are – so that they are able to make those informed choices and start to increase demand across the full palette of species available.

Wouldn’t it be more environmentally friendly just to leave the land alone? Vanessa Norwood, Creative Director of the Building Centre

The idea of ‘leaving the land alone’ is an admirable concept, but one which would never work. The world relies on commodities and the use and trade of resources. The environmental impact can be reduced and thus the sustainable potential increased through renewable resources – like timber – which embed responsible sourcing and implement sustainable forest management (SFM).

The reality is that there are multiple and competing pressures on land and land use. Principally from agriculture, mining, and the need to feed a growing population – we need to balance the demand for material and food with the need to keep these incredible habitats standing, in order to regulate the earth’s atmosphere.

Timber production, under sustainable forest management practices is one of the best ways to keep the trees and habitats standing while also providing a viable income for the local communities, along with other ecosystem benefits and services. By providing a renewable, sustainable income, local communities are not reliant on other forms of income, like the illegal wildlife trade.

We have to remember that other forms of land use, like agriculture and mining etc. are reliant on clearing trees to create space for crops and other activities. Timber production relies on trees to be standing for continuation. Tropical forests are of exceptional importance for climate and emissions reductions, leading to climate change mitigation strategies.

Through our Conversations about Climate Change competition, exhibition, and event series, we are showing that timber harvesting from sustainable forest management sources will actually keep the forests standing – provided governance and legal reforms are in place. We can support this by keeping trade alive and money flowing back to those making the positive changes through their country Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).

*THIS PAGE IS TO BE FREQUENTLY UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.

For more information, visit ttf.co.uk

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