The United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) and the European Union (EU) will step up joint efforts to support tropical timber-producing countries in curbing illegal logging, improving forest governance and promoting the trade of legally sourced timber, under a $30 million funding agreement announced today.
The agreement, which was formalized by the two organizations today in Rome, is expected to not only reduce the environmental impacts of illegal logging and mitigate climate change, but also boost the incomes and food security of forest communities by improving access to domestic and international wood markets, FAO said in a press release.
Participating in the activities in Rome were Veronique Lorenzo of the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, and René Castro Salazar, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry, who highlighted that the efforts will support the next phase of FAO’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) programme, set to run through 2020.
“Thanks to global initiatives like FLEGT, illegal timber production has declined by an estimated 22 percent since 2002,” said Mr. Castro. “The new FLEGT phase offers an important opportunity for lesson sharing across sectors, as it has become increasingly clear that broad partnerships are and will be needed to achieve the global impact that is necessary to reduce forest loss, food vulnerability and mitigate climate change.”
That $30 million sum includes approximately $18 million from the EU, $7.25 million from the United Kingdom and $5.3 million from the Swedish Government, FAO said.
The agency emphasized that illegal logging and associated trade costs governments an estimated $10 billion to $15 billion per year in lost tax revenues, and undermines people’s livelihoods and robs them of income and food. In addition, it is responsible for the degradation of large swathes of carbon-rich forests and vital wildlife habitats, contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss.