The fight against illegal logging and for sustainable forest management is fought at many levels: both at international and European, federal and regional level.
o To restrict the trade in endangered wood species, there exists the CITES convention (Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species). The import of tropical timber that is protected by the CITES convention into the European Union is subject to a double inspection. Both the country of origin and the destination country issue a permit (export and import) that guarantees that the trade in the species does not have harmful consequences for the survival of that particular species and its extent in the country of origin.
o The federal government also works actively on European and international files regarding the protection of forest biodiversity (within the framework of the Convention regarding Biological Diversity), sustainable forest management and the reduction of carbon emissions due to deforestation (REDD+).
In 2002, during the world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg, the European Commission joined the fight against illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber. In 2003, the FLEGT action plan was published (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade). This plan provides measures against illegal logging and the illegal timber trade from the point of view of supply as well as demand. In the short term, its goal is to control the legal origin of wood. In the long run, it wants to promote sustainable forest management in the countries that export wood to the European market. Two large European laws originate from the FLEGT action plan:
• The FLEGT Regulation, approved in 2005, forms the framework for the import of legal timber that originates from the countries that have concluded ‘voluntary partnership agreements’ (VPA) with the European Union.
• The EU Timber Regulation 995/2010, in force since March 2013, which prohibits the bringing on the market of timber from illegal yield or derived products thereof.
The government in Belgium is making an effort at different levels to preserve forests.
In addition to the two European regulations that apply directly at national level, Belgium has introduced other initiatives to promote the use of sustainably managed and thus legal timber:
o A sustainable purchasing policy was introduced in 2005. This policy enforces the federal governments to prefer systematic sustainable timber for their purchases. This is how the government wants to urge the market to produce and import sustainable timber.
o The sectoral ‘timber’ agreement which was concluded in 2011 by the timber sector and the Minister of Climate and Energy. The timber sector has engaged in expanding the share of sustainable timber and derived products in their spectrum to urge their customers to purchase sustainable timber. The authorities, on the other hand, commit themselves to organise the necessary sensibilisation campaigns.
o Furthermore, sustainable forest management has become an important aspect of the Belgian development cooperation: the main focus is to reinforce governments in developing countries, to fight poverty and to protect natural resources. The Directorate-general Environment also participates actively in this, among others through specific dossiers like FLEGT, the Timber Regulation and REDD+, but also through the broader negotiations in the framework of conventions on biodiversity and climate.
The regions have authority over the forests and forest management at a regional level. You can find more information about this on the websites of the regions:
There are municipalities that encourage the use of labelled timber by offering premiums to the citizen. You can get help from your town council for this purpose.