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FLEGT VPAs are trade deals between the EU and a timber producing country, which are negotiated in a way that ensures wood being sold in the EU can be shown to be legally sourced. They aim to deliver a timber trade that is transparent, accountable and sustainable and supports, rather than harms, forest communities.

The problem with illegal logging

The FLEGT Action Plan and Voluntary Partnership Agreements

The EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan represents the European Union’s flagship attempt to tackle the root causes of illegal logging. It sets out a series of measures, including a Regulation (the EU Timber Regulation) requiring companies to verify the legality any timber products they import to the EU.

A key element of the FLEGT Action Plan is a series of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs). These agreements between timber producing countries and the EU aim to ensure that wood being exported to the EU is legal and that forest governance in the exporting country is improved. VPAs work by tackling the root causes of illegality, which include corruption and lack of clarity about land rights.

Legal forest use, when based on laws that are environmentally sound and socially just, can ensure environmental protection whilst providing livelihoods to some of the world’s poorest peoples. The EU FLEGT Action Plan, and especially the VPAs between wood producing countries and the EU, aim to ensure that wood being sold in the EU can be shown to be legal.