Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Analysis Identifies Ways to Improve Understanding and Increase Legality

29 September 2009 | News story
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If a tree is cut down illegally, but no one knows the law, did it make a sound? Riddle aside, the IUCN Vietnam is attempting to address that exact problem. In 2008, The European Union created a FLEGT action plan as a way to cut down on illegal logging. However, in Vietnam, there is a lack of understanding and awareness of the FLEGT action plan. The IUCN Vietnam has been working hard to raise awareness and increase the legality of FLEGT.

On July 15, 2009, the IUCN held a briefing session to share FLEGT information with NGOs in Hanoi. While Vietnam does not do much logging, the country imports wood from other countries such as Laos and Cambodia and then exports furniture products to other countries. As countries in Europe, Japan, and the United States continue to filter out illegal or suspicious wood imports, Vietnam’s already struggling wooden furniture industry will face a loss of market access and share if it does not adopt the FLEGT standards.

At the briefing session, representatives from NGOs discussed how they should support the implementation of FLEGT and how the FLEGT plan will affect the furniture market in Vietnam. The meeting concluded with a recommendation that the IUCN should continue to take a central role in research and should reach a consensus between NGOs, research institutions, and professional associations before making a proposal to the state on how to administer FLEGT plans.

In order to further their central role, the IUCN commissioned a Stakeholder Analysis that was completed on August 20, 2009. As Vu Minh Duc, head of the Governance and Business Unit at IUCN VN explained, the IUCN plans to use the results of this analysis to propose ways that the government can take action on FLEGT.

The Stakeholder Analysis is the result of a twenty-two question survey that was sent out to companies, associations, and a few NGOs in order to gain an understanding of the forest and wood process in Vietnam and identify the interests of the main stakeholders. One of the most interesting findings of the survey is that nearly one fourth of the stakeholders had not heard about FLEGT before they received the survey and nearly one half of people knew nothing about FLEGT before January 1, 2009. Clearly, information on FLEGT has been poorly circulated in Vietnam, even in the governance and business sector. Through analyzing the surveys, four areas of recommendation for action were identified.

The four areas include: how Vietnam should organize for negotiations with the European Union, how Vietnam should respond to the impact that FLEGT will have on forestry activities, how Vietnam should respond to the impact that FLEGT will have on wood-processing-for-export activities, and how associations can support the Vietnamese government in joining FLEGT-process and enterprises that are conducting sustainable business under the FLEGT requirements.

The process to successfully implement FLEGT in Vietnam will continue with a training session on October 8-10 in Hoa Binh province. For more information, please contact Mr. Vu Minh Duc at duc@iucn.org.vn


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