June: VPA ratified
23 February: VPA signed
About 5.4 million hectares of Honduras, or slighty less than half of the land area, are covered by forests. Roughly half of these forests are tropical rainforests, about a third are coniferous forests, and the remaining consists of mangroves, dry tropical forests and agroforestry systems.
Since 2015, Honduras lost about 12.5% of its forest area. Anthropogenic causes such as deforestation and illegal logging amount to 0.5% (24.000 ha annually), while loss due to climate changes impact is 12% of which 11% (600.000 ha) is due to pest infestation, and 1% (56.000 ha annually) is due to forest fires.
The forest sector amounts to an average of about 3.6 % of the GDP. The United States is Honduras’ main timber trade partner. However, exports have noticeably risen in neighboring countries, with El Salvador and Nicaragua constituting EUR 20 million (28%), the second trade partners of Honduran timber products.
Forests used to make an important contribution to the Honduran economy, providing jobs and livelihoods for local people. However, with increasing requirements regarding the legality of timber and timber products on international markets, its share in the economy has decreased. Deforestation and forest degradation have also increased, driven by rising poverty and illegal activities such as drugs trafficking. Between 1990 and 2010, Honduras lost almost three million hectares of forests. The VPA, with its emphasis on legality and good governance, has a role to play in helping the forest sector regain its prominence, provide rural jobs and generate income for Hondurans.
The volume of timber traded between Honduras and the EU is currently modest, representing less than 2% of Honduran timber exports. Despite this, Honduras has chosen to pursue a VPA with the EU to improve law enforcement, transparency and forest governance.
Access to markets other than the EU is also of interest to Honduras, with exports to the United States (US) being particularly important. In agreeing a VPA, Honduras aims to enable its wood products to meet the due diligence requirements of US legislation that prohibits imports of timber of illegal origin. Furthermore, Honduras has expressed a desire to also boost timber exports to other international markets, and sees the VPA as a useful tool to ensure legality.
A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU. VPAs are a key component of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan of 2003. A VPA aims to ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.
Besides promoting trade in legal timber, VPAs address the causes of illegality by improving forest governance and law enforcement. A major strength of VPAs is that they look beyond trade to consider development and environmental issues.
Stakeholders in government, the private sector and civil society – and, uniquely for Honduras, indigenous peoples – develop and implement VPAs through a participatory process. A VPA is, therefore, a vehicle for addressing the needs of different stakeholders and for including many people who have never before had a voice in decision making.
Key elements of a VPA are described in its main text and annexes. In Honduras and other countries where VPAs have already been initialled, these include:
A VPA partner country that has implemented a timber legality assurance system and other VPA commitments can issue demonstrate the verified legality of timber products with through FLEGT licences. The advantage is that FLEGT-licensed timber products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which prohibits EU operators from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market.
The EUTR entered into force in 2013. It requires EU operators to perform due diligence checks to ensure the timber products they place on the EU market are legal. FLEGT-licensed timber meets the due diligence requirements under the EUTR.
A VPA partner country can only issue FLEGT licences through a timber legality assurance system that the EU and the partner country have agreed on, developed and testedevaluated. Before a country can begin FLEGT licensing, the EU and the partner country must confirm that the country’s timber legality assurance system works as described in the VPA. Confirmation by the two Parties means that the system is robust and will issue FLEGT licences only to legal timber products.
While FLEGT licensing is an important goal, it is not the end point of a VPA process. Governance reforms, legislative and policy reforms, impact monitoring, improvements to the timber legality assurance system and other activities continue.
Through progress on VPAs, the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and dialogues with other important timber markets, including China, the EU and its VPA partner countries are contributing to a growing global movement to stop trade in illegal timber and timber products. Australia, the United States and Japan also seek to restrict the placing of illegal timber on their markets. The process to achieve FLEGT licences may therefore help VPA partner countries such as Honduras meet the legality requirements of markets beyond the EU.
4th round of negotiations in Brussels, 2015
Honduras is the first Latin American country (and the eighth overall) to sign a VPA with the EU.
The VPA negotiations began in January 2013 and the Agreement was signed in February 2021. Both Parties have now ratified the VPA, which is expected to enter into force soon.
The level of stakeholder participation in the VPA process in Honduras is unprecedented. This is mainly because, for the very first time in Honduras, the VPA process offers a space for political dialogue for environmental defenders and indigenous peoples to defend their rights. The acceleration of forest loss by illegal activities and the increasing climate change impacts have generated a sense of urgency to act within stakeholders involved in the forest sector, including local communities and indigenous peoples. The VPA process offers the opportunity for stakeholders with a weaker voice to bring about their concerns at the national level. Through the implementation of the VPA, Honduras will showcase EU support in: strengthening the legality of timber harvesting and trade; improving community forest livelihoods: mitigating climate change impacts; and safeguarding basic human rights.
Honduras has expressed its intention to use the VPA to increase transparency in the forest sector. Like other VPA countries, its VPA includes an annex on public disclosure of information that lists the information the government commits to making publicly available.
The VPA process in Honduras is providing opportunities to make legal compliance and law enforcement much clearer, as well as to identify overlaps, gaps and inconsistencies in the current legal framework.
There is broad recognition among stakeholders in Honduras that land tenure is one of the key challenges to address in improving forest governance. At present, several government bodies have responsibilities for land tenure, hindering effective and coherent land tenure policy and implementation. Land conflicts are a major source of human rights abuses in Honduras. The VPA is bringing such challenges to the fore through the active participation of all stakeholders, and has a strong focus on human rights.
Honduras and the EU signed the VPA in February 2021. The VPA and its commitments will become legally binding once each Party has ratified it in line with their internal procedures. A Honduras-EU Joint Implementation Committee will oversee implementation and respond to concerns about problems as they arise. VPA implementation can therefore improve as it proceeds.
To issue FLEGT licences as required by the VPA, Honduras is developing a robust timber legality assurance system. The timber legality assurance system will build on existing national initiatives that aim to strengthen forest governance (see Honduran efforts to tackle illegal logging). Honduras will be able to issue FLEGT licences only when the timber legality assurance system has been successfully tested and Honduras and the EU are satisfied that it functions as described in the VPA.
Like other VPAs signed to date, Honduras has also included commitments to improve transparency, accountability, legislative clarity and other aspects of governance.
Honduras has made considerable efforts to address illegal logging, a problem the country has struggled with for decades. In 2005, in recognition of the scale of the problem, the National Commission for Human Rights launched an independent forest monitoring initiative to assess legal compliance, and observe and guide forest law enforcement systems.
In 2007, a new Forest Law entered into force, after an unprecedented participatory process that saw the Government, civil society and the private sector work together. The law established a new forest authority, called the Forest Conservation Institute (Instituto de Conservación Forestal, ICF). In 2010, ICF adopted a national strategy for the control of illegal harvesting and transport of forest products (Estrategia Nacional para el Control de la Tala y el Transporte Ilegal de los Productos Forestales, ENCTI). In 2013, Honduras became the first Latin American country to enter into VPA negotiations with the EU, and in 2021, it was also the first in the region (and the eighth overall) to sign a VPA with the EU under the FLEGT Action Plan.
As part of the VPA process, Honduras is developing a system for assuring the legality of its timber. The timber legality assurance system will be based on the existing national strategy against illegal logging (ENCTI).
As in all VPAs, the timber legality assurance system will have the following five components:
The level of stakeholder participation in the VPA process in Honduras is unprecedented. Representatives of the Government, civil society, the private sector and indigenous peoples have actively participated in negotiations and committed to maintaining their engagement throughout implementation. The VPA process is, therefore, a vehicle for addressing the needs of different stakeholders and for including many people who have never before had a voice in decision making. In Honduras, stakeholder consultations are increasingly becoming a standard for developing legislation in the forestry sector.
The VPA process is strengthening the capacity of representatives from Government, the private sector, civil society and indigenous peoples to work together to address illegality in the Honduran forest sector. Dedicated regional platforms built the capacity of local stakeholders to engage with the VPA process.
Honduras has expressed an explicit desire to use the VPA to increase transparency in the forest sector. Like VPAs negotiated in other countries, the Honduras VPA includes an annex on public disclosure of information that lists the information the Government commits to making publicly available. Through the VPA process, Honduras is already assessing tools to enhance transparency.
The VPA process in Honduras is providing opportunities to make legal compliance and law enforcement much clearer, as well as to identify overlaps, gaps and contradictions in the current legal framework.
How was the VPA negotiated?
The European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development negotiated on behalf of the EU. For Honduras, the negotiation was led by the Honduran Forest Administration (known as Forest Conservation Institute or by its Spanish acronym, ICF), with support from 16 public institutions represented in a dedicated inter-ministerial FLEGT-VPA Steering Committee, which was set up in November 2014. In May 2018, the Steering Committee members signed a joint memorandum of understanding through which they committed to actively participate in the implementation of the VPA. A broad range of Honduran stakeholders also played active roles in the VPA negotiations.
What has been the role of stakeholders in the VPA process?
The VPA has acted as a catalyst for stakeholder dialogue. When negotiations began, coordination among different stakeholder groups, and sometimes even within stakeholder groups, was limited. The political crisis of 2009 had led to broad mistrust and severe polarisation. The negotiations helped overcome such challenges and resulted in constructive dialogue. Stakeholder consultation has included seeking comments on, and approval of, the VPA text and its annexes.
When will FLEGT licensing start?
After the entry into force of a VPA, there is a period of intense technical work to establish all systems and procedures required for its implementation. FLEGT licensing will begin only after a joint assessment by Honduras and the EU confirms that the Honduran timber legality assurance system has been fully operationalised and fully meets the requirements described in the VPA.
How do the EU and Honduras oversee VPA implementation?
Once the VPA enters into force, Honduras and the EU will establish a Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) to oversee implementation of the Agreement. Honduras and the EU have agreed interim governance arrangements to maintain their close cooperation before the entry into force of the VPA and to prepare for its implementation. For example, they have established a pre-JIC that oversees the carrying out next steps for implementation of the process.
Active participation of a broad range of stakeholders is key to effective VPA implementation. The VPA text explicitly mentions this ample level of inclusiveness and the need to conduct regular consultations.
What products does the Honduras-EU VPA cover?
Annex I of the VPA lists the products the Agreement covers. They include the five obligatory products under EU FLEGT Regulation (logs, sawn timber, railway sleepers, plywood and veneer) and 14 additional products selected by Honduras and based on a review of data from selected official sources. The Honduran law also prohibits the export of certain timber products, in particular roundwood from broadleaf species. In addition, in 2013, Honduras consulted a range of forestry sector operators about the timber products that should be included in the VPA. Their views have also been taken into account when deciding which products the VPA should cover.
The VPA timber legality assurance system and related regulations will apply to these products that Honduras exports (to the EU and other markets) or which are destined for the domestic market. However, only exports to the EU will receive a FLEGT licence.
The timber legality assurance system will not cover timber in transit between Honduras and other countries, or confiscated timber.
How important is the trade in timber products from Honduras to the EU?
The EU is a currently not a major market for timber products from Honduras. However, Honduras has expressed an interest in increasing its exports to the EU and sees the VPA as a good means to achieve this goal.
How much of Honduras’ timber production does the VPA cover?
Once operational, the VPA timber legality assurance system will cover all timber and timber products listed in Annex I of the Agreement, which encompass the large majority of products acquired or in circulation in Honduras (see above). This includes wood and timber products imported into Honduras.
How useful is the VPA, given that most of Honduras’ timber exports go to markets outside of the EU?
The VPA timber legality assurance system and related regulations will apply to all export markets, as well as the domestic market.
What is the Honduras Timber Legality Assurance System?
The core of the VPA describes a national timber legality assurance system (whose Spanish acronym is SALH), which will ensure that timber products are verified to be legal according to specified requirements for all stages of the supply chain, from the forest or the point of import to the point of final sale or export.
What is a FLEGT licence?
A FLEGT licence is a licence issued by a timber-producing country that has implemented a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union. The licence attests to the legality of the timber or timber products. When Honduras’s timber legality assurance system is fully working as described in the VPA, Honduras will issue FLEGT licences for timber bound for the EU.
FLEGT-licensed timber products are deemed to meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits EU importers and domestic producers from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market.
Until Honduras issues FLEGT licences, what requirements must its timber meet to enter the EU market?
Until the start of FLEGT licensing, timber products Honduras exports to the EU will have to go through the normal due diligence process under the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). The EUTR prohibits the placing on the market of illegal timber and requires companies placing timber on the EU market to assess and mitigate the risk of illegal timber entering their supply chain. Once FLEGT licensing starts, FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the EUTR requirements, meaning that no due diligence is required.
How does the VPA define legally produced timber?
The VPA defines ‘legally produced timber’ as timber products harvested or imported and produced in accordance with legislation of Honduras, as set out in the legality definition and other relevant provisions of the VPA. In the case of imported timber, it means timber products harvested, produced and exported in accordance with relevant legislation of the country of harvest (covering rights to harvest, forestry activities, taxation and fees, and trade and customs). The laws that need to be observed include those related to the forest sector, and those related to environmental, economic and social issues.
The VPA legality definition itself sets out the core requirements of legislation applicable to timber in Honduras in the form of principles, criteria and indicators. Timber and timber products must comply with all elements of the legality definition to be considered to have been legally produced.
The principles included in the VPAs are:
How does the VPA deal with the timber Honduras imports?
The VPA includes requirements for Honduran operators to exercise due diligence to assess the legality of timber and timber products they import.
What does ‘due diligence’ mean in the context of the VPA?
The concept of due diligence is an important element of the risk-based approach for the implementation of the VPA timber legality assurance system. Honduras will develop dedicated legislation to set out the details of this approach.
For products imported to Honduras, due diligence includes two main elements:
Do companies that hold voluntary certiﬁcation (such as FSC or PEFC) also have to follow the VPA timber legality assurance system?
Voluntary certification exists in Honduras in some broadleaved and pine forest areas for both management and chain of custody.
The Honduran Forest Administration will analyse the guidelines and criteria, and the verification procedures, used by voluntary certification schemes. The result of this assessment will dictate whether or not Honduras recognises these schemes as meeting the VPA legality requirements.
How does the VPA address conversion of forests, such as for agriculture?
The VPA established that timber products sourced from land subject to a duly authorised change in use may enter the supply chain. Cutting all the trees on any area is allowed:
How will the impacts of the VPA be monitored?
The EU and Honduras made a joint commitment to monitor the social, economic and environmental effects of the VPA. Impacts will be assessed to minimise any potential negative impacts. Under the VPA, the EU and Honduras commit to take reasonable steps to ensure mitigation is effective and may agree to take additional measures when necessary.
How will the VPA beneﬁt Honduras?
The VPA is expected to bring economic, social and environmental benefits to Honduras.
What benefits have already arisen from the VPA process?
Several positive developments have emerged during the VPA negotiations:
How can the VPA address corruption?
The VPA establishes procedures for reporting any problems, including corruption, related to the implementation of the timber legality assurance system.
The VPA proposes the engagement of a broad range of stakeholders in the implementation phase. They will be consulted regularly basis and all views will be taken into account. Such broad participation will make corruption more difficult as stakeholders jointly safeguard the robust implementation of the VPA and raise concerns to have them jointly addressed.
The VPA also includes a mechanism to handle complaints, as well as provisions for access to public information and increased transparency. These elements will jointly contribute to strengthening the rule of law and citizen participation.
Is the VPA fair to small-scale operators in the sector?
Yes. The definition of operators in the forestry sector includes categories of small-scale operators such as rural communities and community groups. They are recognised as having their own needs and requirements. The VPA is also explicit about the need to create safeguards for vulnerable groups so potential adverse effects are mitigated. Vulnerable groups include small-scale operators, indigenous and Afro-Honduran peoples, local communities and other forest-dependent people.
Forest areas on land traditionally owned by indigenous and Afro-Honduran peoples are officially recognised and respected as such by the State. This is in line with national laws and the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, also known as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169, whether or not they hold the title deed.
How does the VPA protect indigenous peoples’ rights?
The Honduras-EU VPA is the first VPA to have recognised indigenous peoples as a distinct stakeholder group. Indigenous peoples were represented in the negotiating committee and put forward their proposals to address their specific needs and challenges. They are now engaged in the implementation of the VPA.
One of the principles underpinning the VPA legality definition is specifically related to indigenous and Afro-Honduran peoples. It requires the State of Honduras to comply with ILO Convention 169 in terms of recognising their rights to be consulted about forest-related activity in lands belonging to them.
What will the FLEGT licence from Honduras look like?
The FLEGT licence looks like the template in Annex IV of the Honduras-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
What is the link between FLEGT licensing and CITES in Honduras?
The Honduran timber legality assurance system will subject timber from species that are subject to the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to the same control and verification procedures as other timber.
The CITES Management Authority of Honduras will issue CITES permits for shipments into the EU that contain only timber that are subject to the provisions of CITES. In line with the FLEGT Regulation, timber and timber products which are subject to the CITES provisions shall be exempted from FLEGT licensing requirements. Shipments which do not contain timber subject to the provision of CITES shall require a FLEGT licence.
How will FLEGT licences be issued?
FLEGT licences shall be granted for each export shipment of timber that is listed under Annex I (which defines the product scope) of the VPA and exported to the EU market, provided that such shipment and the exporter have met with all the requirements set out in the legality definition and supply chain control and verification under Honduras’s timber legality assurance system. FLEGT licences shall be granted by a Competent Authority assigned by the Government of Honduras (see below).
What is the Licensing Authority?
The licensing authority in Honduras is the Honduran Forest Administration (known as Forest Conservation Institute or by its Spanish acronym, ICF), through the FLEGT Licensing Unit. The ICF’s Legality Verification Unit is responsible for verifying legal compliance.
What does VPA implementation entail?
Honduras will need to revise or issue new legislation to realise the commitments of the VPA. It will then need to develop the timber legality assurance system elements and build capacity to operate the system.
Several Government agencies will be involved in the enforcement of the timber legality assurance system. They include the Honduras Forest Administration (ICF), the Agrarian National Institute (Instituto Nacional Agrario or INA), the Land Titling Authority (Instituto de la Propiedad), the Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mines (MiAmbiente), the Revenue Administration System (Sistema de Administración de Rentas or SAR), the Secretariat for Labour and Social Security (Secretaría del Trabajo y Seguridad Social or STSS), the Honduran Institute for Social Security (Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social or IHSS) and the regional governments (Municipalidades). Other official institutions, such as the National Police, the Armed Forces, the judiciary or the Ombudsman, will also play a role in ensuring the effective implementation of the VPA.
VPA implementation will also require continuation of consultation with stakeholders in Honduras, continued involvement of the EU delegation, external technical assistance and support, and for Honduras to mobilise resources to implement the timber legality assurance system.
Before the FLEGT licensing scheme can become operational, the EU and Honduras will undertake a joint assessment to confirm that the timber legality assurance system is operating as described in the VPA.
Who has oversight of the VPA? What if problems emerge?
A Honduras-EU Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) will oversee implementation of the VPA and will handle any issues as they arise. In the interim, a pre-JIC maintains the close cooperation between the two Parties before the entry into force of the VPA and prepares for its implementation.
The Honduran Forest Administration (ICF) will also enter into cooperation agreements with civil society organisations interested in the functioning of the mechanism employed by the ICF to handle complaints, follow them up and publish final reports on investigation of the complaints in a coordinated manner.
The JIC will review and approve the reports from the organisation acting as the independent auditor, examine any complaints on the functioning of the FLEGT licensing system, and manage the implementation of the recommendations on the territory of each Party.
If any breaches of the timber legality assurance system occur, a devoted assessment will determine the nature of the breach. If it is an administrative breach, the ICF will issue an administrative sanction. If it is a crime, it will follow the penal judiciary channels.
Honduras currently has various independent oversight mechanisms in place. These include Forest Consultative Committees and a civil society-led Independent Forest Monitoring initiative. They constitute one important element of a system of checks and balances.
Who is the independent auditor?
Honduras will appoint the independent auditor following discussions with the EU, through the Honduras-EU Joint Implementation Committee.
Are the reports of the independent auditor public?
Once independent auditing starts, summaries of the reports will be made publicly available.
What happens when the legality assurance system fails to detect illegal timber?
If and when illegal timber is shown to have passed through the timber legality assurance system undetected, this will provide opportunities to strengthen the system to avoid a reoccurrence of the breach.
Is the VPA fair to small-scale operators in the sector?
The VPA process has opened up spaces for small-scale operators to participate in forest policy. It has also provided support to help small-scale operators comply with the new market requirements.
Video: Cameroonians with small timber businesses visit Belgium to discuss trade in legal timber with the EU. This video is also available in French.
How does the VPA protect community rights?
Civil society representatives actively engaged in negotiating the VPA and pushed for the recognition of community rights within the VPA. As a result, the VPA contains specific provisions to respect and protect the rights of communities. In addition, the VPA has opened up spaces for communities and civil society to work with the Government of Cameroon to improve the recognition of community rights in Cameroonian laws and policies related to the forest sector.
Video: The director of the Cameroonian NGO APED explains that FLEGT is an opportunity to challenge and question the Government about taking community rights into account.
How does the VPA deal with the rights of indigenous peoples?
The Cameroon – EU VPA mentions the rights of indigenous peoples and takes specific measures to protect them.
How does the VPA address timber produced from the conversion of forests to other land uses, such as for agriculture?
The VPA timber legality assurance system is intended to ensure that all timber and timber products can be traded nationwide or exported only if they have met legal obligations. The VPA joint monitoring committee (JMC) is tasked with ensuring that the VPA timber legality assurance system remains credible. In this context, the challenges posed by timber from forest conversion is an issue that the JMC monitors.
How has the VPA responded to the claims around the Herakles Farms (SGSOC) concession and what were the outcomes?
The VPA has offered a political avenue for stakeholders to raise concerns over illegalities linked to the oil palm plantation project of the US firm Herakles Farms (SGSOC). This case has also helped highlight and understand credibility issues that conversion timber poses for the VPA.
EU reactions to the challenges highlighted by the Herakles Farms case:
What if problems emerge? Who has oversight of the VPA?
Two joint (EU-Cameroon) structures oversee implementation of the VPA and will respond to any concerns about problems in implementation as they arise: the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) and the Joint Implementation Council. In other VPAs. Implementation therefore improves as it proceeds. See Article 19 and Annex XI of the VPA.
How does the VPA address grievances?
The VPA includes a mechanism to resolve grievances. Under the agreement, stakeholders can raise issues with the Cameroon-EU Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) through the independent auditor or by putting matters of concern on the agenda for JMC meetings. See Annex XI.c of the VPA.
Who is the independent auditor?
The independent auditor is an organisation (with auditing qualifications following ISO rules) whose role is to regularly assess whether the timber legality assurance system functions as described in the VPA. The independent auditor reports findings to the Cameroon-EU Joint Implementation Council via a report submitted to the VPA Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC). A public summary of the reports will be made available.
Are the results of the independent audits available?
Once independent audits start, public summaries of the reports will be available on the VPA website of the Cameroonian Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF).
What has been the result of the audits carried out by the independent auditor and what where the outcomes?
The VPA independent auditor in place between 2013-2014 assessed the conformity of documents related to the allocation of forest titles and made an inventory of confiscated timber in Cameroon. As the VPA’s timber legality assurance system was not in operation during the period of activity of the independent auditor, no audit of the system was carried out.
What is the role of independent observers in the VPA?
During the VPA negotiations, Cameroonian stakeholders from Government, the private sector and civil society decided that independent observation has a role to play to monitor forest governance in the context of the VPA, but that it should not be a compulsory part of the legality assurance system.
What complaints have independent observers made and what were the outcomes?
Since 2014, after over a decade of formal independent observation, national civil society has been organised in a network of independent observers. The standarised system for external independent observation (SNOIE) provides information to the competent administrations in charge of forest controls.
What will happen to FLEGT licensed timber that is shown to be illegal?
What happens when the legality assurance system fails to detect illegal timber?
If and when illegal timber is shown to have passed through Cameroon’s timber legality assurance system undetected, this will provide opportunities to strengthen the system to avoid a reoccurrence of the breach.