The ENPI FLEG Program “Improving Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in the European Neighbourhood Policy East Countries and Russia” supports governments, civil society, and the private sector in participating countries in the development of sound and sustainable forest management practices, including reducing the incidence of illegal forestry activities. Participating countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. This program is funded by the European Union with a contribution from the Austrian Development Cooperation.
A significant proportion of the world’s timber is harvested, transported, processed and traded in violation of the national and international laws. This has serious environmental, social and economic consequences.
Poor governance of forest resources combines with weak rule of law to undermine sustainable economic growth, societal equity, and environmental conservation. The effects of unsustainable forest management and illegal forest activities include: significant loss of revenue to governments, the private sector and rural communities (especially forest-dependent communities); degradation of the environment and forest ecosystems; loss of biodiversity; and the loss of carbon stocks, further exacerbating climate change.
The World Bank estimates the global annual market losses from illegal cutting of forests at more than 10 billion USD - more than eight times the total of Official Developmental Assistance (ODA) for sustainable forest management.
Illegal exploitation of forest resources (often driven by organized crime), affects various sectors of society. The underlying causes of illegal logging are complex and often extend beyond the forest sector. Drivers frequently cited include: rural poverty and subsistence-level living; demand for fuel for heating and cooking; lack of stakeholder participation in management and low levels of public awareness; corruption and a general failure of governance and; unclear, controversial or simply nonexistent policies and legislation; poor implementation of existing laws; unclear or unfair ownership or tenure of forest resources; weak institutional structures; and inability to monitor and enforce the regulations applicable to the use and conservation of forest resources. All these issues are difficult to address and require time and investment to bring about significant and lasting change.
Activities that undermine long-term management and economic development can include illegal logging, timber theft and smuggling, trade of illegal wood, unauthorized forest conversion, unclear legislation, unclear tenure arrangements and lack of enforcement of forest regulations due to corruption.
What is FLEG?
The Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) Program was created to combat the threats posed to forests by illegal logging, trade, poaching and corruption. The initiative is comprised of processes which address the complex and politically-sensitive issues related to illegal logging at national and regional levels, and is implemented in cooperation with the major stakeholders from governments, civil society and the private sector.
The FLEG Program has the potential to make an important contribution to the struggle against illegal logging and illegal timber trade, by targeting both the producer countries and consumer countries, and ensuring governments strengthen regulations and rules of law to prosecute individuals and companies involved in the illegal timber trade. It promotes increased regional and international cooperation, as well as greater law enforcement, governance and transparency.
However, even well designed initiatives will fall short unless there is political commitment and cooperation at the highest levels. Improving forest law enforcement and governance will require collaboration across sectors and stronger stakeholder involvement.
The European Union is the world's largest donor of official development assistance. EuropeAid Development and Cooperation, a Directorate General of the European Commission, is responsible for designing European development policy and delivering aid throughout the world. EuropeAid delivers aid through a set of financial instruments with a focus on ensuring the quality of EU aid and its effectiveness. An active and proactive player in the development field, we promote good governance, human and economic development and tackle universal issues, such as fighting hunger and preserving natural resources.
Austrian Development Cooperation
Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) supports countries in Africa, Asia and Central America as well as in South Eastern and Eastern Europe in their sustainable social, economic and democratic development. The Foreign Ministry (FMEIA) plans ADC strategies and programmes. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of ADC, implements these together with public institutions, non-governmental organisations and enterprises.
The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. Our mission is to fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors.
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.