The Forestry and Wood Industry Union of Gabon known as UFIGA has called for the resumption of talks with the European Union (EU) towards signing a Voluntary Partnership Accord (VPA) on the application of Forestry Regulations on Governance and Commercial Exchanges (FLEGT).
Gabon opened negotiations with the EU in September 2010 towards the signing of the VPA-FLEGT convention but the talks broke down in the middle of 2012.
Eight years on, the UFIGA said it was urgent for the two sides to resume the talks in order to quickly sign an accord to validate efforts already made by certified forestry companies.
According to UFIGA, the resumption of negotiations involves the remobilisation of the concerned national actors within the state, the civil society and the private sector, all of whom generally agree that the VPA-FLEGT negotiations should resume.
“In any case, lessons have to be drawn from the first phase of negotiations so as to ensure the success of the resumption and in the end result in the signing and putting in place the accord,” said Nathalie Nyare of FLEGT Gabon.
Nyare said the resumption of talks must be built while taking into consideration what had happened during the last years, notably the experiences of 14 other countries involved in the FLEGT process.
At the end of the negotiations, the final version of the accord will contain a principal text and annexes related to the products concerned in the accord, he explained.
“This would include the definition of legality, the system for the verification of the legality of timber in the European Union, procedures concerning the importation of timber accompanied by FLEGT authorisations, the FLEGT authorisations proper, independent audit, the criteria for the evaluation of the system of verification of the legality, the calendar of putting in place of the accord, the accompanying measures during the phase of putting in place of the accord,” Nyare said.
Gabon had during the period of interruption taken actions aimed at ameliorating the governance of the timber sector with essentially the generalisation of the certification of forestry concessions and the increased transformation of the raw material notably the exigency for more and more transformation.
To best conform to the exigencies of the forestry regulation policy of Gabon, the private sector has on its part increased action such as the one initiated in 2019 geared towards the reinforcement of the management capacities and the traceability of forestry data.