FLEGT is the European Union’s programme to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance, and promoting trade in legally produced timber.
FLEGT works through Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), which are legally binding trade agreements between the European Union (EU) and a timber-producing country outside the EU.
The purpose of a VPA is to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreements also help timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector.
In Laos, WWF is working with the Department of Forest Inspection (DoFI) to implement the project in two southern provinces. Although there are policies and regulations to support law enforcement and curb illegal logging in Laos, the FLEGT VPA is a new initiative.
By entering into a VPA with the EU, Laos is looking to build its timber industry by diversifying timber products and increasing revenue through placement on the EU market.
The project is currently in the negotiation stage, but once complete, Laos can begin to put systems in place to control, verify and license legal timber.