Building on legality to deliver sustainable timber and palm oil markets

Buyers and producers of forest and agricultural commodities, including timber, palm oil and cocoa, will meet with government and civil society representatives from Ghana, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon this month to discuss how legal compliance can support sustainable commodity markets.

This is part of the Forest Governance, Markets and Climate programme of the UK Government.

The workshop is co-hosted by Proforest and BVRio Environmental Exchange in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. It will take place at the Mensvic Hotel in Accra, Ghana, on 28-29 March 2017.

The expansion of large-scale production of timber and agricultural commodities is a major driver of tropical deforestation, but also has the potential to contribute to local livelihoods and national economic development if implemented sustainably and in compliance with legal requirements.

Legal compliance alone cannot fully meet the deforestation-free commitments made by many companies, but it can make a significant contribution. This workshop aims to explore the extent to which legal compliance can support reducing forest loss and provide a platform for developing more responsible production and sourcing. It will aim to learn lessons from Brazil where the Twin Track Approach is resulting in positive results.

Proforest will share results from legal benchmarking reviews conducted in Ghana and Liberia. One aspect of the legal reviews has been to compare the provisions of statutory and customary legislation with the requirements of standards and initiatives such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020).

BVRio will introduce their legal timber trading platform, the Responsible Timber Exchange <>, which aims to support transparency, legality and sustainability in the timber sector. The platform includes an in-built due diligence and supply chain tracking system. A key focus of this discussion will be to explore how BVRio can help traders meeting the due diligence requirements of the EU Timber Regulation and the US Lacey Act in the absence of a fully functional timber legality assurance system in Ghana.

The workshop will also provide an update to Ghana’s FLEGT-VPA process.

Abraham Baffoe, Proforest’s Africa Regional Director, said, “Many businesses producing or sourcing from West and Central Africa have made commitments to deforestation-free, sustainable commodity production. Legal compliance can be an effective first step for businesses to demonstrate compliance with these commitments, whilst promoting smallholder and gender inclusion.”

Pedro Moura Costa, BVRio’ Director, said, “Interpol estimates that between 50 and 90% of all tropical timber traded is from illegal sources. With lower production costs and no taxes, illegal sources are able to displace legal and certified production. BVRio wishes to explore the conditions needed to promote the responsible production of timber.”

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