FLEGT incorporated into regional SFM training in Mekong Region

Twelve forestry officials from Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam took part in APFNet's Training for DG Level Forestry Officials from the Mekong Region, held in Kunming, China, on 6–17 September. APFNet is experienced in providing training on sustainable forest management in the Asia-Pacific region, but, for the first time, the training covered FLEGT, in response to requests by member countries. 

Almost all participants said that they had heard about the EU FLEGT Action Plan, VPAs and the EU Timber Regulation, especially participants whose countries are already involved in these processes. This resulted in fruitful discussions in the FLEGT session, during which the participants discussed challenges in achieving strong forest governance, stakeholder participation, shared experiences and expectations regarding new international timber legality market requirements and how to actively involve SMEs in supplying legal timber. 

Another session was dedicated to discussing options for regional cooperation through channels such as ASEAN, APFNet and countries in the Mekong River Basin. Participants in this session agreed that a wider network such as ASEAN +3 could better help mobilise and inform policy on timber legality and the promotion of trade in legally sourced timber products. The participants also identified the need for greater capacity building in the Mekong region to improve forest governance and enforcement.

Participants reported that the workshop had improved their understanding of the EU's approach to illegal logging and associated trade, and particularly about the role of VPAs in improving governance and alleviating poverty.