Published 4 November 2014

New reports find slow progress on forest governance in key timber producer countries

Cambridge, UK, 4th November 2014—Brazil, Ghana and Indonesia have all made progress towards reducing illegal logging and improving forest governance, but challenges remain. Meanwhile, Lao PDR, has recently begun to prioritise this issue, but its efforts are yet to bear fruit. In all four countries, agriculture, mining and infrastructure development are driving increased deforestation and illegal logging, according to a series of reports launched last week by Chatham House. 

Four key timber producers have all made progress towards reducing illegal logging, but challenges remain. © Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

TRAFFIC provided national data for the studies in Brazil, Indonesia and Lao PDR through funding provided by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) via the Responsible Asia Forest and Trade (RAFT) Programme for the latter two countries. 

Illegal logging is a global problem that results in deforestation, social conflict and the loss of government revenues.

“Addressing the problems caused by illegal logging was never going to be achieved overnight, and it is encouraging to see some progress being made in all four of these key producer countries, efforts that need to be fully supported by consumer countries,” said Chen Hin Keong, TRAFFIC’s Forest Trade Programme Leader. 

In Brazil, progress in tackling illegal logging has slowed in recent years. Considerable effort has been put into law enforcement, but this is being undermined by limited resources as well as by flaws in the country’s timber tracking system, leading to the laundering of illegal timber. 

Lao PDR has taken some steps to tackle illegal logging, but these remain limited to date. Fundamental governance reforms will be needed to improve transparency and accountability in the country’s forest sector.

The reports, which are part of a series on Indicators of Illegal Logging and Related Trade, show that implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) between the EU and Indonesia and the EU and Ghana resulted in significant improvements in forest governance in both countries, including clarification of forest legislation, increased participation in decision-making and greater transparency in the sector. 

These developments have contributed to a decline in illegal logging but some more intractable problems have yet to be effectively addressed, including high levels of corruption and a lack of understanding of, and control over, the small-scale sector and domestic markets.