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Lecture by Saskia Ozinga - Does Europe's policy response to illegal logging work? An environmentalist's perspective

Illegal logging contributes to deforestation, causes loss of biodiversity and undermines the rule of law. These illegal activities undermine responsible forest management, encourage corruption and tax evasion and reduce the income of the producer countries, further limiting the resources producer countries can invest in sustainable development. Furthermore, the illegal trade of forest resources undermines international security, and is frequently associated with corruption, money laundering, organised crime human rights abuses and, in some cases, violent conflict.

In the forestry sector, cheap imports of illegal timber and forest products, together with the non-compliance of some economic players with basic social and environmental standards, destabilise international markets. This unfair competition affects those European companies, especially the small and medium sized companies that are behaving responsibly and ready to play by fair rules.

The EU, one of the largest importers of illegally sourced timber, has tried to tackle the problem with an EU Action Plan presented in 2003: the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. Now, ten years later, what has been achieved? Has the plan led to reduction of illegal logging? Has forest governance improved? And is this an effective way to address the continuing loss of the world's forests? And if not, what could or should be done to meet the EU's objective to halt global deforestation by 2030?

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