The Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Regulation
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The UK government has introduced major new domestic legislation to tackle the global trade in illegal timber which is expected to come into effect early to mid-2013. This UK wide regulation will implement existing EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) legislation. This will require importers of timber from countries with whom the EU has signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to obtain a FLEGT license to import timber into the UK.
The FLEGT Regulation makes it illegal to import certain types of timber and timber products into the EU from these so-called VPA partner countries unless that timber has been licensed by the exporting country as being legally harvested.
The EU FLEGT Regulation has been implemented into UK legislation as of 20 February 2012, but it will not be effective until the first VPA country is listed on the Annex to the Regulation. This is expected to happen early to mid-2013. Importers will need to have a FLEGT licence to import timber from those countries listed on the Annex to the Regulation, i.e those with whom the EU has concluded a Voluntary Partnership Agreement. The FLEGT Regulation will in conclusion apply from when the first FLEGT licensed timber become available on the EU market. For more details on what the FLEGT Regulation means for you and how it will work, see the section ‘how will it work’.
What is a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and which countries have agreed a VPA? back to top
The Indonesian Minister of Forestry Zulkifl
A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a bilateral agreement negotiated between the EU and timber producing countries. A VPA is a key part of the FLEGT action plan. Under the terms of a VPA a partner country agrees with the EU to implement a timber licensing system. From that partner country, the EU will only accept licensed timber products which are included in the scope of the VPA once the country has fully implemented a timber licensing scheme.
Currently VPAs have been agreed with Ghana, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and the Central African Republic. Two other VPAs are in the process of being signed with Liberia and Indonesia. For more information on these VPAs and the stages of implementation of these VPAs see the section 'The VPA partner countries'.
Since no country has, at this moment, fully implemented a timber licensing scheme, there is no FLEGT-licensed timber available in the market. It is expected the first FLEGT-licensed timber will become available mid 2013.
Which timber products are subject to FLEGT licensing? back to top
The precise timber products to which the FLEGT licensing requirements will apply will depend on the individual VPA, so may vary from partner country to partner country. However, all VPAs signed to date include all partner countries’ timber and timber derived products exports. See here for the lists of products for each partner country. (for details on the product codes included in these lists, see the link to Annex 1 on this page)
The EU FLEGT Action Plan back to top
The FLEGT Regulation is part of the wider EU FLEGT Action Plan. This is an EU-led initiative aimed at tackling illegal logging by ensuring that imports of timber into the EU are from legal sources. The EU FLEGT action plan is the foundation of the European Union's efforts to support improvements to forest governance around the world, in particular in developing nations.
The adoption of the FLEGT Action Plan has resulted in two new pieces of UK legislation: the EU Timber Regulation and the FLEGT Regulation. The latter has a narrower scope than the EU Timber Regulation in so far as it only relates to the VPA partner partner countries, while the EU timber regulation applies to all timber first placed on the EU market.
More on the FLEGT Regulation in this section back to top
CPET leaflet on
- The VPA partner countries
Up-to-date information on VPA partner countries, the stage of implementation they are in and the products included in the licence.
- How will the FLEGT Regulation work in practice?
- Links and documents
For any more information on FLEGT licensing, please contact the EU & International Forestry team at Defra, through firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information contained on the CPET website is provided on behalf of the UK Government as a summary for guidance only. Definitive interpretation of legislation is a matter for the Courts.