Fairly Trading the World’s Timber

Each year, 12 million hectares of timber are lost to logging, both legal and illegal. Reducing this rate through responsible management of the world’s forest stock has the power to reduce poverty, conflict, and greenhouse gases. While the European Union, the United States, and a number of developing countries have already put in place some policies to promote forest sustainability, much more remains to be done.

The EU Timber Regulation and the US Lacey Act both prohibit illegal timber. The EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are innovative bilateral agreements that facilitate enforcement by timber-exporting nations, and do so by engaging civil society, the private sector, and governments.

This joint World Policy Institute-Demos paper details the genesis of FLEGT and similar initiatives around the world; the implications of such policies through a case study of the logging situation in the West African country of Liberia; and comprehensive proposals for future action. With this information, experts and non-experts alike can encourage and facilitate sustainable forestry, which can not only have an immense impact on climate change mitigation efforts, but also foster global economic prosperity.

“FAIRLY TRADING THE WORLD’S TIMBER: Lessons on Global Forest Governance and Trade from Europe and Liberia.” William Powers and Andrea Wong. New York: World Policy Institute and Demos, July 2011