Illegal logging is global and very serious problem but most of all it has a devastating impact on some of the world's most valuable remaining forests, and on the people, who live in the areas and rely on the resources that forests provide. There are lot of negative environmental effects of illegal logging like deforestation, the loss of biodiversity and the emission of greenhouse gases. It has contributed to conflicts with indigenous and local populations, violence, human rights abuses, corruption, funding of armed conflicts and the worsening of poverty, it undermines the legitimacy of the forest sector and hinders the efforts of governments to implement sustainable forest management. Consumer and producer countries have a shared responsibility to combat illegal logging, by addressing both the supply and demand for illegal timber.
The 1998–2002 G8 Action program on Forests highlighted illegal logging as one of five issues affecting the world's forests. Since then, several initiatives to address the problem have been introduced by governments and the private sector. In 2003, the EU published the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan Action Plan sets out measures available to the EU and its member states to tackle illegal logging in the world's forests. As part of the EU's FLEGT Action Plan the EU Timber Regulation
The EU Timber regulation aims to reduce illegal logging by ensuring that no illegal timber or timber products can be sold in the EU. The EU Timber Regulation came into force on 3 March 2013. It prohibits operators in Europe from placing illegally harvested timber and products derived from illegal timber on the EU market. ‘Legal' timber is defined as timber produced in compliance with the laws of the country where it is harvested. Next step on EU`s FLEGT Action Plan is working on VPA (Voluntary Partnership Agreement) , it is a legally binding trade agreement between the European Union and a timber-producing country outside the EU. The purpose of a VPA is to en¬sure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreements also help timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector. VPAs are treaties that the EU makes with timber-producing countries that export timber and timber products to the EU. A country that has a VPA and an operational licensing system can issue FLEGT licenses for legally produced timber and timber products.
All timber and timber products with a FLEGT license automatically comply with the EU Timber Regulation. This means that when purchasing FLEGT-licensed timber, EU operators do not need to carry out additional due diligence checks.
In 2017, Indonesia was the first country to begin issuing FLEGT licenses and have agreed on VPA. FLEGT-licensed products are considered to comply with the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation. Based on VPA with Indonesia EU has updated FLEGT Council Regulation (EK) Nr. 2173/2005 I and III attachment which is summarized in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1387. European Commission update information about FLEGT, EU Timber regulaton and latest VPA`s and publish in official webpage
Each European country must designate a competent authority which is responsible for implementing the EU Timber Regulation and sets penalties for non-compliance. In Latvia competent authority is Ministry of Agriculture Republic of Latvia. Competent authority based on Regulation Nr.1024/2008 will verify that each shipment from VPA country is covered by a valid FLEGT license, before releasing the shipment for free circulation in the EU. Verification of FLEGT license can be done before shipment is sent or after custom declaration is submitted. Custom can carry extra physical checks of shipment if mismatches are found in documents or other risks may occur.
Competent authority accept paper or electronic FLEGT licenses which are submitted:
- by e-mail: FLEGT[a]zm.gov.lv
- to Custom of Latvia
- in TRACES system in electronic form
For more information please contact us by e-mail: FLEGT[a]zm.gov.lv or phone nr. +371 67027349