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Defining Forest Legality in Africa. ‘Wale Adeleke REDD Forest Governance Thematic Coordinator IUCN West and Central Africa Programme. Background 1. Timber is one of the natural resource commodity that flows through Africa in many ways, but the production is most of them illegal.

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Defining forest legality in africa

Defining Forest Legality in Africa

‘Wale Adeleke

REDD Forest Governance Thematic Coordinator

IUCN West and Central Africa Programme

Background 1
Background 1

  • Timber is one of the natural resource commodity that flows through Africa in many ways, but the production is most of them illegal.

  • Poor forest governance has cost Africa dearly in terms of reduced goods and services, lost taxes and royalties, the erosion of livelihoods, and degraded forests.

  • The political response has been slow, but national and regional FLEG processes are gathering pace to implement the 2003 Yaounde AFLEG Ministerial Declaration on improving forest law enforcement and governance (FLEG).

  • Voluntary Partnerships Agreement (VPA), is important but it is one of the tools for addressing forest governance issues, especially legality.

Background 2
Background 2

  • African civil society groups are becoming important advocates for improved governance and sustainable use of forest resources, critical sources of information, and conduits for awareness-raising and informal liaisons between government and the private sector.

  • Multi-stakeholder processes are important for engaging different stakeholder groups in sustainable forest management and for creating alliances

  • Although some countries in Africa have enacted good laws and policies , many have yet to move beyond rhetoric to implementation through appropriate information flows and empowerment of forest communities.

African countries involved in the vpa processes
African Countries involved in the VPA Processes

  • Cameroon

  • Central African Republic

  • Ghana

  • Liberia

  • Republic of Congo

  • Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Gabon

Vpa expectations on verification of legal compliance and supply chain
VPA Expectations on Verification of legal compliance and supply chain

  • Compliance with the requirements for definition of legal timber in forest and mill operations

  • Implementation of supply chain controls at all critical control points to prevent “mixing”; i.e. blocking illegal/unknown timber from entering the supply chain

  • Verification must be clear, credible and evidence-based to allow export of wood consignment

  • There are sufficient controls to assure markets that only legal timber is being traded

Status of legality assurance systems in african countries
Status of Legality Assurance Systems in African Countries supply chain

  • Definition of what legal timber means in each country - All the countries that signed the VPA have a definition of legal timber. It is determined by numbers of principles; criteria and several indicators

  • Introduction of enabling policy, legal and administrative Reform Agenda

  • Chain of custody - Outlines how regulators and private operators (loggers/millers/wood processors) will document and keep track of the flow of wood through the various stages of the forestry sector business process

  • Wood Tracking System (WTS) +record keeping, documentation and defining Roles & Responsibilities constitute important aspects of the CoC under the VPA

  • WTS are been piloted in most of the countries and yet to be deployed nation-wide.

  • New Institutional arrangements have been put in place to serve as internal auditor and ensure compliance e.g. the Timber Validation Department (TVD) of the Forestry Commission of Ghana.

Vpa implementation lessons
VPA Implementation Lessons supply chain

  • Create ownership of the process beyond governmental technical working group; broad stakeholder consultation through multi stakeholder process is key

  • The agreement is binding. Targets, objectives and milestones must be realistic

  • Keep the capacity of institutions in mind when setting implementation milestones/timelines

  • The negotiation process involved the combination of legal as well as technical personnel for thorough analysis of contents and contexts of agreement

  • Involvement of legislature is critical (Senate/Parliament etc.)

Vpa implementation lessons1
VPA Implementation Lessons supply chain

  • System development phase of the LAS required more efforts, expertise and resources than anticipated. For e.g. introduction of a computerized WTS

  • Institutional (Governmental and private operators) readiness for LAS roll-out very critical; resources and capacity enhancement very essential. Continuous stakeholder engagement necessary

  • Industry players very sensitive about any extra cost burden for the implementation of the LAS

  • Any system to be developed must recognize timber procurement policy for the domestic market

  • The business case for the industry; the regulatory case for government agencies; and the transparency/advocacy case for the civil society needs to be well communicated to these different stakeholders for their buy-in of the FLEGT/VPA process

Some early signs from the wts pilot
Some Early Signs From the WTS Pilot supply chain


  • Easy access to field data at central point moments after field work

  • Potential to reduce transaction time – e.g. map production after timber stock enumeration

  • Easy reconciliation of data at successive points in the process chain

  • Potential to improve FMS & ensure effective revenue collection


  • Internet connectivity

  • Accuracy of GPS reading under forest canopy

  • Technical issues with data capturing device

  • Scaling up to cover all supply chains destined for the EU and local Markets

  • Cost of the WTS and its sustainable financing

  • Readiness of industry/private operators in terms of:

    • satisfying basic system requirements for submitting required data

    • record keeping/documentation

Thank you
THANK YOU supply chain