By Godfrey Olukya 15-6-2013
As one of the ways of protecting forests in Ivory Coast, the European Union has come in to help the west African country to fight against illegal logging.
The European Union and Ivory Caost have announced that they will launch negotiations of a new trade agreement to combat illegal
logging. This scourge affects millions of poor people who depend on forests for their livelihoods, deprives governments of billions of
euros every year and the associated deforestation worsens climate change.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement that will be negotiated is a legally-binding agreement, designed to set up control and licensing systems to ensure that all timber imported to the EU from Ivory Coast has been produced legally.
Ivory Coast has around 10,405,000 hectares of forest, which is more than three times the area of Belgium. However, in the last 50 years, the country has seen its forests reduced by 75%, due among other factors to pressures from the exploitation of timber and fuel wood.
European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said: “Illegal logging continues to have a devastating impact on some of the world’s most valuable forests, and the people who depend on them to live and to make a living. Ivory Coast exports 80% of its forestry products to the EU and as one of the biggest global markets for timber, the EU is part of both the problem and the solution. I hope that these negotiations will deliver a new agreement, which will be a crucial step forward in protecting this valuable forest before it’s too late”.
Voluntary Partnership Agreements are part of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan; a ground
breaking scheme that has achieved considerable results in its first ten years. According to an independent report the FLEGT Action Plan and related initiatives have led to a reduction of illegal logging by 50% in many tropical countries, saving up to 17 million hectares of forest from degradation and avoided several billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. But it’s clear that more needs to be done.
A joint declaration will be signed today in Abidjan by Mathieu Babaud Darret, Minister of Water and Forests, and Thierry de Saint Maurice, EU Ambassador to Ivory Coast. In deciding to launch the negotiation of a new FLEGT the two sides make a commitment to fight illegal logging and promote good governance, anchored in an international treaty.