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FNI Explores International Policies to Control Illegal Logging

Lars H. Gulbrandsen(07.04.06) In a report handed over today to the Norwegian Minster of The Environment, Helen Bjørnøy, the Fridtjof Nansen Institute explores international initiatives and options for Norway on combating illegal and unsustainable logging of timber.

The report, entitled International Initiatives to Address Tropical Timber Logging and Trade, is written by FNI forest policy expert Lars H. Gulbrandsen, in cooperation with David Humphreys of the Open University, UK.

The report analyses how international and regional initiatives to control illegal and irresponsible timber logging, including various non-state forest certification schemes, have developed over the last decade, and discusses how Norway could follow-up the various initiatives.

In a background analysis of recent developments, the report highlights the regionalization of efforts to combat illegal logging, and emphasizes the important role of the USA in this process. Acknowledging the different challenges in various regions, the USA has promoted regional cooperation to strengthen forest legislation enforcement (the so-called Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) processes), as an alternative to the slow, consensus-based global process within the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF). While proposing measures to promote sustainable forest management and responsible timber production, the USA has strongly opposed measures that would allow restrictions upon timber import, signalling the current US administration's commitment to free trade, even beyond the requirements of WTO.

The EU, on the other hand, has adapted its policy to WTO, with demand-side measures that do not challenge WTO regulations. This has resulted in the EU's Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan and licensing scheme, with one key element being the conclusion of voluntary bilateral licensing agreements with producer countries.

Upon taking office last year, the current Norwegian government declared it would consider a ban on tropical timber imports as a way of combating irresponsible and illegal logging. The current report has been commissioned as part of these considerations.

The report outlines a number of measures to achieve Norwegian policy objectives on rainforest logging, including:
   To introduce a tropical timber import ban.
   To join the EU's FLEGT process on terms agreed with the EU, and to conclude voluntary bilateral licensing agreements with producer countries.
   To introduce public procurement guidelines requiring purchases to be made from legal and sustainable sources, using UK, Danish or Dutch regulations as models.
   To seek closer collaboration with private sector importers.
   To promote the principle of 'due diligence' in governmental or semi-governmental export credit agencies, ensuring that money is not lent to companies logging, trading or using illegal tropical timber.
   To offer bilateral cooperation/aid to producer countries to promote forest law enforcement and good governance.
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Further information:
   Download the entire report (67 pages, PDF)
   Read more about FNI's research on biological diversity
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 The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental, energy, and resource management politics.
The Institute maintains a multi-disciplinary approach, with main emphasis on political science, economics, and international law.



Fridtjof Nansen Institute
P.O. Box 326, 1326 Lysaker, Norway. Tel: (+47) 67111900 / E-mail: post (+@fni.no)