September 2013 – February 2018
The project aims to:
- provide support on VPA negotiation with the European Union to reduce illegal wood harvesting
- promote legal timber trade
ProFLEGT is a joint initiative of the Lao Government and the German Development Cooperation. It is working closely with various stakeholders, involving government agencies, civil society organisations, academia and timber processing industry, in Lao PDR to provide support on the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) negotiation with the European Union, as part of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) to reduce illegal wood harvesting and promote legal timber trade.
Targeted beneficiaries include government agencies, civil society groups, the timber industry and local communities.
“We have asked for assistance from the government to stop the export of unprocessed raw materials (logs) as local furniture producers are currently suffering from the shortage of raw materials. The Lao Furniture Association has also asked the government to supply wood in an effort to promote domestic production and strengthen local businesses’ capacity to compete with foreign rivals once the market opens up.”
Mr. Khamboun Chaophasihomkhao, a member of the Lao Furniture Association and the General Manager of the Dongluang Furniture Plant, expressed his concerns about the shortage of raw materials and increasing competition once Laos joins the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
In August 2015, the Lao Prime Minister Office has announced a complete export ban for logs and sawn timber without any exemptions. This ban was prepared by the Department of Import and Export (DIMEX, Ministry of Industry and Commerce), a lead partner in the FLEGT process. The ban came alongside with an on-going discussion among FLEGT stakeholders (in particular key Ministries involved) about serious discrepancies between wood export data from Laos and wood import data from neighbouring countries. According to Vietnamese and Chinese customs data neighbouring countries import at least five times more timber from Laos than registered by Lao customs. At the same time illegal timber harvesting and sales occur at significant scale.
As part of the Lao FLEGT process “Thematic Expert Groups” have been established as main fora for the technical discussion on timber legality and the timber legality assurance system (TLAS). The Thematic Expert Groups (TEGs) support trust building among stakeholders and help to establish “stakeholder dialogues” as a common standard.
The TEG on plantation is taking a two-pronged approach in its work. One avenue is to analyse the legal framework for plantation timber (smallholder and industrial plantation) as part of defining timber legality. To this end a mission is currently on-going in Sayaboury province to assess the plantation timber supply chain from harvesting to point of export.
The second avenue is to identify and field-test improvements in the plantation timber supply chain. As a first issue the TEG is addressing that only 10% of smallholder teak plantations are registered, regardless of that this is the starting point for tracking the legal origin of timber. Currently the process of registering a plantation is lengthy and costly and the benefits are not fully understood by plantation owners and government officers. To tackle this problem the Forestry Section Sayaboury, with technical support from the Department of Forestry and financial support from GIZ ProFLEGT, conducted a training on plantation registration with a focus on applying GPS for surveying plantation areas and on designing a standard Plantation Registration Certificate (PRC) to replace the diversity of PRCs currently used across provinces. It was agreed to use the standard PRC across Laos in the future.
The TEG is set up as a multi-stakeholder forum with representation from provincial and national-level government, local civil society (Green Community Development Association), WWF, plantation owners and from the Luang Prabang Teak Programme.