EU and Cameroon to ensure legal origin of imported wood products

EU Today, the European Union signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement with Cameroon, the largest African exporter of timber products to the EU. By July 2012, all shipments of wood products from Cameroon to the EU will be required to carry a license showing that they contain timber and wood products from a legal origin.

This agreement expresses a strong joint commitment to eradicate illegal logging and underpins Cameroon’s ongoing reforms towards good governance of the forest sector and development. European consumers, for their part, will have confidence that wood products, such as furniture, imported from Cameroon are of legal origin.

Negotiations of the agreement between Cameroon and the EU started in 2007 and have been based on active engagement of civil society and private sector representatives. A national wood traceability system is already under development.

Illegal logging has a devastating impact on the world’s forests and the people that rely on the resources they provide. The European Union’s response to tackle illegal logging is set out in the 2003 Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan. The cornerstone of this policy is the Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the EU and wood exporting countries.

Cameroon is one of the main timber exporting countries of the Congo Basin, which constitutes the world’s second largest tropical forest. 80% of Cameroon’s timber is exported to the EU.

Africa’s biggest exporter of tropical hardwood to Europe intends to set up a national system to ensure legal compliance in timber production, covering all timber and wood products being sold to the EU, but also on the domestic market and to non-EU markets. The European Union at the same time will guarantee unrestricted access to its entire market for all timber products coming from Cameroon that have been verified legal. These stronger control systems will also enable Cameroon to stop illegal deforestation and degradation that contribute to climate change.

Cameroon Minister Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, in charge of forest and wildlife, signed the agreement for Cameroon. It is the third in a series of bilateral accords that are negotiated between the EU and timber producing countries (agreements were signed with the Republic of Congo earlier this year and with Ghana in 2009).

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