EU signs a deal with Liberia to end trade of illegal timber
The European Union and the Government of Liberia, which presides over half of the remaining rainforest in West Africa, announced today a landmark agreement to ensure that all Liberian timber products exported from Liberia to the EU are derived from legal sources and that the resulting trade will benefit the Liberian people. EFIs EU FLEGT Facility provided technical support to the preparation, negotiation and implementation of FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement in Liberia.
Almost 45% of Liberia — about 4.3 million hectares — is covered by tropical forest. With over half the entire rainforest remaining in West Africa, Liberia is home to rare and endangered wildlife, and represents one of only 34 biodiversity hotspots worldwide.
The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU is an outgrowth of an aggressive effort undertaken by the Liberian government to embrace reforms across the timber sector and revive forest production and its export sales. Illegal logging had been rampant during the prolonged civil war in the 1990s. The VPA will be signed only five years after the lifting of UN sanctions, imposed on imports of timber from Liberia by the UN in 2003. Timber exports once accounted for more than 20 percent of the GDP of Liberia, but the sanctions stopped commercial forestry activity, and they have yet to rebound.