In 2003, the European Union launched the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade process, known as FLEGT. This process aims to curb illegal logging and timber trading. The key instrument to achieve this goal in partner countries is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) licencing scheme. The FLEGT-VPA mechanism is uniquely positioned to bring focus to the domestic timber sector and offer policy measures and practical solutions through its problem-specific capacity building, public consultations and management and oversight tools, including the Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), chain of custody and independent third party verification. The project Pro-Formal aims to analyse which policy measures could improve the EU-FLEGT chances of success in better integrating the domestic timber markets within the national legal framework. In five selected countries, the project initially will assess different facets of the overall timber sector, be they legal or illegal, formal or informal, regulated or unregulated and small-scale or large-scale. It will also assess the interplay among these facets. Further, the project will see k to better understand the social dynamics within the timber sector of selected countries, as well as the impacts that improved policies might have on domestic timber markets and the livelihood options they currently provide. If one country wholly embraces VPA, for instance, efforts to reduce the informal timber market should not result in an indiscriminate clamp-down of chainsaw loggers that unduly undermine livelihood options at the local level. Knowledge gained from Pro-Formal work will be used to develop a menu of instruments, systems and policy options for consideration in national level VPA negotiations. The project aims to foster common sense policies that bring the domestic sector from grey and black markets into legal ones while promoting sustainable forest management and improved livelihood options.
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