The EU yesterday signed a landmark agreement to license timber shipments from Cameroon, its largest African supplier, in a bid to eradicate illegal logging.
Earlier this year, the EU passed legislation that will from 2012 ban the import and sale of illegally felled timber and the push to tackle imports of illegal timber is being supported by a series of Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA), which aim to independently certify timber from legal plantations.
Under the terms of Cameroon's VPA, from July 2012, all timber and wood product shipments from the country will have to carry a licence showing that they came from a legal origin if they want to access EU markets.
Cameroon will also establish a national system to ensure legal compliance in timber production, covering wood sold to non-EU markets and on the domestic market, as well as the 80 per cent exported to the EU.
Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, Cameroon minister for forest and wildlife, formally signed the agreement yesterday, bringing to an end three years of negotiations.
The latest agreement follows similar VPAs signed between the EU and the Republic of Congo and Ghana. Six other countries – Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Liberia and Gabon – are also currently negotiating VPAs with the EU, while and a number of other nations have expressed an interest in preliminary talks.
Andris Piebalgs, European commissioner for development, said countries signing up to VPAs would find it easier to respond to growing demand for sustainably certified timber.