Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG)

Page - April 28, 2006
The Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) process aims to combat the threats posed to forests by illegal logging, trade, poaching and corruption.

Close-up view of the Paradise Forests, at Lake Murray., Western Province, Papua New Guinea

Illegal logging takes place when timber is harvested, processed, transported, brought or sold in violation of national laws including:

  • Obtaining concessions illegally (eg via corruption and bribery) or without full and informed consent;
  • Cutting protected tree species or extraction trees from a protected area;
  • Taking out more trees, under sized trees, oversized trees than is permitted or trees outside an agreed area;
  • Illegal processing and export;
  • Fraudulent declaration to customs of the amount of timber being exported;
  • Non payment or under payment of taxes;
  • Use of fraudulent documents to smuggle timber internationally.

Illegally logged timber destroys lives by perpetuating a vicious cycle of violence, intimidation, corruption and environmental and social degradation. A ban on the import of wood products from illegal and destructive sources is the only way to stop illegal logging.

Countries from the East Asian and other regions participating in this Ministerial Declare that we will: Take immediate action to intensify national efforts, and to strengthen bilateral, regional and multilateral collaboration to address violations of forest law and forest crime, in particular illegal logging, associated illegal trade and corruption,and their negative effects on the rule of law.

Bali Ministerial Declaration, 13, September 2001

Delegates to the FLEG East Asia Ministerial Conference, which took place in Indonesia in September 2001, promised to implement rigorous measures to stop the illegal trade of timber from the region.

Yet little has actually been achieved.

The FLEG process has the potential to make an important contribution to the fight against illegal logging, by targeting both the producer countries (PNG and Indonesia) and consumer countries (China, Japan and the EU), and ensuring governments prosecute individuals and companies involved in the illegal timber trade.

Increased regional as well as international cooperation and resources are key to ensuring the success of this process. Greater law enforcement, governance and transparency will be vital components of this effort.

Consumercountries must recognise that demand from their markets for cheap timber and wood products is fuelling this environmental disaster.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of the East Asia FLEG process, Greenpeace believes the following measures should be adopted in the immediate short-term by consumer and producer countries:

  • Adopt a strong definition of Legality;
  • Adopt Government Procurement Policies;
  • Designate official Ports for import/export;
  • Implement Transparency & Access to Data;
  • Harmonise customs data & codes;
  • Adopt legislation to Ban Imports of Illegal timber;
  • Ensure Civil Society Involvement.

Time is running out for the Paradise Forests and an ambitious programme - with real targets and deadlines - is vital.