All about the Honduras-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement
Forests cover about 5.4 million hectares of Honduras — just under half of the total land area. This includes tropical rainforests (52% of the total), coniferous forests (31%) and other types such as mangroves, dry tropical forests and mixed forests (pastoral, agroforestry). These forests are rich in biodiversity and are important carbon stores.
About 85% of the forests are of middle and older age, and they are not being replenished quickly enough to compensate the rate of their destruction — since 2015, Honduras has lost about 12.5% of its forest area.
Most of this decline (88%) is due to an infestation of insect pests that is linked to climate change, and was brought largely under control in 2016. Other causes of forest loss are fires (8%), which are also linked to climate change, and deforestation and illegal logging (4%).
The basic types of forest land tenure include: private (35%), state (27%), community (10%), municipal (4%) and indigenous (3%). The remaining 21% of forest lands have not been assessed to determine land tenure.
Human activities take place in almost 80% of the forest area with the intrusion of, among others, illegal loggers, drugs traffickers and immigrants such as impoverished families seeking to alleviate their poverty by entering into agroforestry and pastoral activities.
The country’s forests are therefore being threatened by unsustainable activities. The Central American biological corridor, which includes these forests and plays a pivotal role in maintaining the region’s biological richness, is at risk.
The forest sector accounted for an average 3.6% of the Honduran gross national product over the past 16 years. Between 2010 and 2016, import values of timber products have risen by only 6% (from 51 to 54 million USD), while exports have risen by 62% (from 50 to 81 million USD).
In the period from 2010 to 2016, exports to Europe rose from USD 1.7 million in 2010 to USD 4 million in 2016, which constitute only 4.9% of the exports. The United States (US) is the main market, with exports rising by 35% since 2010, from USD 23 million to USD 31 million. However, exports to neighbouring countries of El Salvador and Nicaragua have also risen, to USD 23 million (28% of all exports), making these countries the second biggest market for Honduran timber products.
Honduras was the first country in the Americas to enter into VPA negotiations with the EU. In June 2018, Honduras and the EU marked the end of VPA negotiations by initialling the document, ahead of signing and ratifying it. The VPA was signed by the EU and Honduras in February 2021. It will enter into force after each Party has ratified it in line with their internal procedures.
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