FLEGT and tackling drivers of deforestation


Conversion timber and forest-friendly commodities



Recent shifts in global markets, commodity trade and consumption patterns are increasingly putting pressure on natural forests to be converted to production of more profitable commodities, such as palm oil, cocoa, fast growing plantation timber, or beef and leather. Estimates indicate that up to 80% of deforestation worldwide is caused by agricultural expansion, often illegal.

Timber harvested from forest land that has been converted to another land use is referred to as ‘conversion timber'. As forest conversion, and often the process that allocates forest land to another land use, does not always follow due legal process, there is a risk that illegal conversion timber will enter supply chains. During this session, we will look at the opportunities that VPAs provide to address conversion timber.

The link between deforestation and climate change highlights the importance of land use change driven by forest-risk commodity consumption as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In consumer markets, there is now growing awareness of the impact of agricultural expansion and the need to progressively move to producing commodities without, or with less, deforestation. A panel will debate how public and private initiatives can learn from the achievements of the EU FLEGT Action Plan, and can, in turn, also provide useful learning for the future directions of the Action Plan.



  • Understand the scale of forest conversion and the deeper governance challenges that lead to it.
  • Explore the opportunities and constraints provided by VPAs and the EUTR to deal with conversion timber and learn from country experiences.
  • Discuss which elements and lessons learned from the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan can inform policies to address deforestation.
  • Explore how lessons from emerging experiences from public and private initiatives on forest-friendly commodities can strengthen the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan.

Who is in it?

Peter Wehrheim, European Commission

Wehrheim's portfolio includes climate finance, deforestation and agriculture. Among his current tasks are: the mainstreaming of climate action into the EU budget in support of the 2020 climate and energy targets; scaling up climate finance in the external cooperation of the EU; the future treatment of land use, agriculture and forestry in climate policies. Wehrheim began working with the European Commission in 2004 and was first affiliated with the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (until 2010). He was responsible for various rural development programmes (for the period 2007-2013) and in 2008 contributed to the "Health Check" of the Common Agricultural Policy. Prior to joining the Commission he worked as a senior research fellow at the Centre for Development Research in Bonn/Germany. In 2002/2003 he was a Heisenberg Scholar of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and worked at the Department of Economics of the University of Maryland. In 2001/2002 he was temporary Professor for Economic and Agricultural Policy at the University of Bonn. Between 1994 and 1998 he was affiliated with the University of Kiel and worked as a consultant for the World Bank, the FAO and the European Commission. In 2001 he completed his Habilitation in Agricultural Policy at the University of Bonn and in 1994 he received a Doctor degree in agricultural economics from the University of Giessen.

Phuc To, Forest Trends

Phuc is a senior policy analyst at Finance and Trade Programme at Forest Trends. He also works as a research fellow at Resources, Environment and Development Group of the Australian National University. Phuc received his PhD in environment at Humboldt University (Germany) in 2007. His dissertation project examines the political economy of the forest sector in Vietnam, with a particular focus on the dynamics of access and control over the forest. Phuc's recent focused on local dynamics of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) in the Mekong countries, particularly Vietnam. Phuc has been providing consultancy services to Asian Development Bank, European Forest Institute, World Resources Institute, United National Development Programme and other organizations working in the areas of PES/REDD+ and FLEGT.

Patrice Kamkuimo Piam, CED

Patrice Kamkuimo works with the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) in Cameroon on the governance in the management of natural resources. His main focus is on monitoring the VPA negotiation and implementation. Patrice is particularly interested in protecting the rights and interests of local and indigenous communities with regard to forests and land. Since February 2014, he has served as Coordinator of the Community and Forest Platform. He is also the civil society representative to the VPA's National Monitoring Committee, Joint Monitoring Committee and Technical Working Group. He holds a postgraduate degree in Botanic and Ecology from the University of Yaoundé.

Giuliana Torta, European Commission

Julia Falconer, DFID

Daphne Hewitt, EU FAO FLEGT Programme

Hewitt is based in Panama where she has been leading implementation of the EU FAO FLEGT Programme in Latin America since mid-2013; supporting governments, local civil society, indigenous groups and private sector organizations to address priority issues in forest governance. She is a forester with a background in sustainable forest management, voluntary certification and governance, including three years supporting FLEGT processes in Liberia and Ghana, and 10 years supporting FSC certification and responsible forest product sourcing throughout Latin America. Her areas of technical focus are supply chain analysis, legality compliance and assessing forest governance systems for inclusivity, transparency and sustainable practices. Hewitt has led multiple assessments and trainings for both the public and private sector to identify country-specific threats to forest cover and priority issues for strengthening forest governance. 

Neil Judd, Proforest

Judd has spent more than 20 years working with environmental certification and the responsible management of natural resources. He has extensive in delivering practical solutions to sustainability requirements, specialising in audit and certification, supply chain control and best management practices, in a wide range of tropical and temperate settings. His experience includes management of the largest global forest certification programme, and a leading role in the development of sustainable oil palm. He works across many sectors including forest products, palm oil, soya and sugar cane. Judd is a co-founder and director of Proforest, and is responsible for Proforest's global programme for responsible sourcing.

An Lambrechts, Greenpeace

Lambrechts has expertise on forest governance issues such as policies that contribute to halting deforestation. She is a Senior Forest Campaigner with Greenpeace working at the intersection of producer and consumer country policies. During the past three years, she has focused on international and bilateral agreements and policy instruments affecting forest governance in Indonesia, such as the EU-Indonesia FLEGT VPA and its relationship with private sector No Deforestation commitments.

Penny Davies, Ford Foundation

Davies is a Ford Foundation program officer, based in New York, working with organizations on international and national climate change policies that benefit low-income rural communities, particularly indigenous peoples. Her grant making also focuses on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and on global and local work specifically aligned with the foundation's Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico and Central America offices. Penny joined the foundation in 2012 after working as the senior forestry advisor for the Department for International Development (DFID) in the British government. In this role, she led DFID's global policy and program work on forests. Davies holds two master's degrees—one from the University of Oxford on forests in relation to land use and the other from the University of London on agricultural development and economics. 

Saskia Ozinga, FERN

Ozinga is the founder and campaign coordinator of FERN. She studied biology and healthcare at Wageningen University and the Hogeschool Utrecht. Since graduating, she has worked as a teacher of environmental science at the Hogeschool Utrecht and for nearly 10 years as a campaigner at Friends of the Earth Netherlands. While at FERN she has facilitated NGO coalitions on different topics related to forests and community rights, and written and published numerous books, articles and reports on themes such as forest certification, trade and forests, effective advocacy, improving forest governance and forests and climate. She has been a board member of various organisations, including Tropenbos International and the Alliance for Sustainable Development, and is currently a board member of the Forest Peoples Programme and The Forest Trust.

Tran Thi Thuy Hoa, Vietnam Rubber Association

Dr. Tran Thi Thuy Hoa is Office Manager of the Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA). VRA is a voluntary and non-profit organisation that represents legally enterprises running in the Vietnam rubber industry or sectors related to this industry.

She has more than 25 year experience in research at the Rubber Research Institute of Vietnam (RRIV). Her recent research has been on statistical data, rubber market information, rubber market research and trade promotion programs for the sustainable development of the Vietnam natural rubber industry. 

Sam Lawson, Earthsight Investigations

Lawson is an independent researcher and founding director of Earthsight Investigations, a research organisation. He has been researching forest governance, including illegal logging and illegal forest conversion, and associated trade, for 15 years, for international NGOs, think-tanks and development agencies. He is the author of a number of influential reports on these subjects. Lawson has led both desk and field research on illegal logging, illegal forest conversion and associated trade in many countries across Asia, Latin America and Africa, and has been engaged with international initiatives, including FLEGT. He recently led a programme of work for US research NGO Forest Trends, examining illegalities in conversion of tropical forests for commercial agriculture, and associated trade in timber and agro-commodities. He has also recently published reports on illegal logging in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Papua New Guinea, with UK think-tank Chatham House.

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