Timber legality assurance systems
At the heart of each Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a ‘timber legality assurance system', which verifies that wood products conform to national laws. Once verified as legal, partner countries can give FLEGT licences to timber products destined for the EU market. Once a VPA partner country begins FLEGT licensing, the EU will only accept timber products from that country if it has a FLEGT licence.
Some countries meet VPA requirements by adapting existing systems. In Indonesia, for example, a timber legality assurance system called SVLK was in place before VPA negotiations began. Since then, Indonesia has refined the SVLK through the VPA process.
Other countries have incorporated existing private certification schemes used by national companies into their VPA timber legality assurance systems, to reduce the burden of compliance on the private sector.
Some countries need to develop new elements of a timber legality assurance system in order to ensure it is robust enough to meet the demands of a VPA. The five core components common to all VPA timber legality assurance systems are:
- The legality definition
- Supply chain control
- Verification of compliance
- FLEGT licensing
- Independent audit
The components are illustrated below and each is described in a section of VPA Unpacked. The details of each component vary from country to country, and are described in the VPA annexes.
Figure 7. Component parts of a timber legality assurance system
Related sections of VPA Unpacked
EU. 2007. FLEGT Briefing Note 03: A timber legality assurance system. European Union. [Download PDF]