Timber legality assurance systems


Implementing timber legality assurance systems: countdown to FLEGT licensed timber



Timber legality assurance systems (TLAS) are becoming fully operational and FLEGT licences could be issued in 2015-2016. However, implementation challenges have emerged over the last few years. While many of these challenges are being resolved, fundamental questions remain. How do we optimise these ambitious systems without jeopardizing the credibility of FLEGT licences? How do we harmonise stakeholder interests, market realities and available resources? How do we create tailor-made solutions that work in the unique settings of each country?

This seminar will look at timber legality assurance systems from two perspectives in two sessions. In the first session, participants will explore the mechanisms behind the FLEGT licences that will soon enter the European market. In the second session, participants will discuss unresolved implementation challenges and reflect on FLEGT-related initiatives that may provide lessons for VPA implementers.



  • Share practical experiences from VPA countries where timber legality assurance systems are becoming operational.
  • Identify challenges and reflect on how to address them in order to build robust systems.
  • Show how timber legality assurance systems are 'learning systems' that evolve and improve over time due to the joint implementation mechanisms set up by VPA partners.

Who is in it?

Françoise Van de Ven, Secretary General of the FIB

Active in the forests sector from 1979, Françoise worked in Belgium until 1997 and in the private sector in DRC since then. She is Secretary General of the Fédération des Industriels du Bois (FIB) and member of several committees and commissions (ITIE, VPA FLEGT, several piloting committees in supporting programmes and private sector projects in DRC). She is administrator in ATIBT, ERAIFT and RIFFEAC.

Anand Punja, UK Timber Trade Federation

Punja plays a leadership role within the UK Timber Trade Federation, strategically supporting and representing UK timber traders on all aspects of sustainability, the key one being responsible sourcing particularly supporting members with EUTR obligations. As part of this, Punja supports members' supply chains to understand the role they have in supporting European businesses to comply with the EUTR and to engage them in the wider FLEGT agenda. He also supports members' customers, particularly those in the UK construction industry to better understand the nuances and increase demand for responsibly sourced timber. 

Mardi Minangsari, Indonesia Independent Forestry Monitoring Network

Minangsari is one of the co-coordinators of the Indonesia Independent Forestry Monitoring Network. She has worked for more than 15 years on  illegal logging and forest governance issues in Indonesia. Since 2004, Minangsari has been coordinating Indonesian civil society groups working on FLEGT. She is involved in developing the Indonesian timber legality assurance system. Minangsari is also involved in the Voluntary Partnership Agreement process between Indonesia and the EU as one of the civil society representatives in the Joint Implementation Committee. Since 2012, she has worked with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) dealing with FLEGT in South East Asia region.

Gemma Boetekees, Forest Stewardship Council International

Boetekees is Global Network Director with the Forest Stewardship Council International (FSC). FSC is a global, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide, enabling businesses and consumers to make informed choices about the forest products they buy, and create positive change by engaging the power of market dynamics. Boetekees is member of the FSC management team and coordinates the FSC Network of more than 45 national FSC Partners around the world and five regional offices providing support to FSC's stakeholders. Boetekees has been engaged for 20 years in promoting sustainable forest management. She previously coordinated the International Markets Program with Dutch development organisation ICCO, providing trade support to small producers. Her career in FSC includes the establishment of one of the first FSC national Offices in The Netherlands, in close collaboration with the 19 innovators from the corporate sector and NGO's. She further coordinated FSC's work in Europe, and was campaign leader of the Dutch Heart for Wood campaign, a pioneer's campaign of Friends of the Earth, WWF and Oxfam Netherlands in close collaboration with the Dutch corporate sector, establishing market solutions for sustainable forest management and products. 

Agus Sarsito, Center for Forestry Standardisation and Environment

Sarsito has been involved in the development of the Indonesia Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK) since 2003, and led the Indonesia-EU FLEGT-VPA negotiations as chief negotiator. He participates in all formal VPA implementation meetings between the two parties, in particular the Joint Implementation Committee meetings. As Director of the Center for Coordination of Forestry Development at the Ministry of Forestry, he was in charge of the development of Forest Management Units in the Sumatra Region from 2012 to 2014. Recently, Sarsito has been appointed Director of the Center for Forestry Standardisation and Environment.

Raphael Yeboah, Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana

Yeboah is a practicing forester and a lawyer and the Executive Director of the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana. Since 1985, he has worked with the Forestry Commission in various positions. As a policy and law expert, Yeboah was part of the team and a multi-stakeholder committee that negotiated the Voluntary Partnership Agreement. Since its ratification he has led the piloting and roll-out of Ghana's Legality Assurance System (GhLAS) from the forest operations side.

Richard Nsenkyire, Samartex

Nsenkyire is a professional forester from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with 20 years' experience in wood processing and international trade in Africa and Europe. He is General Manager of Samartex Timber and Plywood Company, a leading timber company in Ghana supplying wood products globally. As chair of the wood processing sector for the Association of Ghana Industries, he has represented the Ghana timber industry on the multi-stakeholder implementation committee during the VPA negotiations. He is also an executive member of the Ghana timber millers organization and represents the Ghana timber trade industry on the Ghana Forestry Commission as a board member. He has been involved in various certification schemes throughout his career, and led Samartex's efforts to become the first wood processing firm to attain Controlled Wood/CoC certification in Ghana.

Alexander Hinrichs, EU FLEGT Facility

Hinrichs is the team leader of the Asia team at the EU FLEGT Facility hosted by the European Forest Institute (EFI). He joined EFI in 2011. He supports the Facility's work in a number of Asian countries, including technical support to VPA negotiations and TLAS implementation, regional exchange (in particular under ASEAN structures) and capacity building. He has more than 25 years' experience in forest management and economics, policy and governance, timber trade and markets, forest certification, forest and climate change, and forest management by communities. He has worked with several development cooperation partners and non-governmental organisations and was based in Indonesia between 1996 and 2002. His education is from Freiburg, Germany, where he was awarded a doctorate in forest management and lectured for several years.

Martin Mbongo, MINFOF Cameroon

Mbongo is a Forestry Engineer from the University of Dschang in Cameroon and he also holds a Master's degree from the Universities of Liège and Gembloux. He has been working for 10 Years at the Forestry Revenue Enhancement Programme at the Taxation Department before moving to the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife. Today, Mbongo is the Head of Forest Utilisation Standards at the Forestry Department, where he also acts as VPA and CITES focal point. His operational experience and involvement in the negotiation and implementation of international agreements make him a key person in the development of Cameroon's timber legality assurance system.  

Luca Perez, European Commission

Perez has a degree in international relations and diplomacy and MSc in economics and sustainabledevelopment. After having worked for NGOs and UN Agencies (UNDP, UNEP) in Africa and Latin America, he joined the European Commission in 2010. Since 2012 he has been working on global forest policy (UN Forum on Forests, International Tropical Timber Organization and FAO) and on the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan and of the EU Timber Regulation.

François Busson, European Commission

Busson's academic background in forest and geography is backed by 20 years' experience in tropical countries, including protected area management, rural development, corporate responsibility in the private sector and climate change. Before moving to the European Commission, he worked with COMIFAC in the Congo Basin. Today, Busson is a member of the forest team of DG DEVCO at the European Commission, where he acts as the FLEGT focal point for DRC and Gabon, and supportsthe focal point for Côte d'Ivoire. He is also involved in the regional approach for FLEGT and forest policy in Central Africa.

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Background materials

Briefing note: A Timber Legality Assurance System. European Commission, 2007.

Paper: Europe's Forest Strategy in the Next Decade: Options for the Voluntary Partnership Agreements. Chatham House, 2014.