Africa: Increasing Legality and Transparency in the Timber Trade

Rome — FAO’s new online portal contributes to sustainable forest-management

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today launched a new online portal providing information on forest-related laws around the world in order to help promote legal forest management, timber production and trade, and contribute to efforts to make forest resource use sustainable.

The first such portal of its kind, developed with support from the Japanese Government, TimberLex provides information on legislation relating to forest management, timber production and trade from 46 timber consumer, processing and producer countries.

Illegal logging and related trade are estimated to account for 10-30 percent of the global timber trade – or $ 30-100 billion annually – and impairs poverty alleviation, food security and climate change mitigation while undermining efforts to manage forests sustainably. In an effort to address this issue, major wood-consuming countries are increasingly imposing requirements for timber imports to document their legal status.

“One of the challenges to promoting legality and transparency in the timber trade is knowing what regulations are in place that may impact actions along the value chain, as each country’s legal system is of course, unique,” stated Daphne Hewitt, Manager of the FAO-European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme.

“It can be very challenging for timber producers, exporters, importers and regulators in timber exporting and importing countries to find reliable information on national legal requirements around timber legality,” she added.