This paper explores the potential for amending the existing Voluntary Partnership Agreement model, developed as part of the EU’s Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan, to address community forestry in countries with little or no direct export markets in Europe.
- While the six FLEGT VPAs that have been signed to date by the EU have been with countries that have substantial timber exports to the EU, the countries now expressing an interest in engaging in VPAs have different, often minimal, trade relationships with Europe. Finding a way to engage with these countries will help maintain the relevance and momentum of the ‘FLEGT agenda’.
- Broadening the scope and commercial viability of community forestry is a key aim in many countries which face forest governance challenges, and establishing an effective model to support community forestry within a VPA may be of interest to many timber-producing countries, particularly in South and Central America.
- Such a ‘community forestry VPA’ may include a licensing system as in existing VPAs, while also supporting the development of institutions through which to provide sustainable small-scale investment in the forest sector.
- The nature and scale of incentives and the distribution of benefits resulting from a ‘community forestry VPA’ may nevertheless be too limited to generate sufficient political will for their negotiation and implementation.