A new ambition: achieving 20% of forest cover
Between 1960 and 1980, the forestry sector was the third-largest export sector in Côte d’Ivoire and an important driver of economic growth. However, due to the massive clearing of the Ivorian forest in favour of rapid development of agricultural production, the timber industry saw its weight in the country’s economy decline sharply. Nevertheless, the forestry sector remains essential not only for thousands of workers, but also for the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss and soil erosion.
Until 2014, the management of Ivorian forests was based on a Forest Code dating from 1965. This legal framework was based on a commercial and extractive vision of natural resources. Moreover, it did not integrate the multiple environmental services provided by forests and did not encourage reforestation.
In light of these challenges, Côte d’Ivoire initiated a series of reforms in 2013 to update its legal framework and adapt it to the current context. This political will has resulted in several reforms, including the adoption of a new policy for the preservation, rehabilitation and extension of forests, which aims to increase forest cover to 20% by 2030. To this end, a new Forest Code was enacted in 2019.
A partnership agreement with the EU as a catalyst for reform
As the EU is the destination market for around 50% of Ivorian timber exports, in 2013, the two parties initiated the negotiation of a timber trade agreement, the FLEGT VPA. This Agreement aims to ensure legality in the entire timber-forestry sector, which implies compliance with the economic, environmental and social Ivorian legislation. This includes not only the export of timber and timber products from Côte d’Ivoire to the EU, but also the logging, processing and transport of timber. It also aims to improve forest governance and support more sustainable forest management.
As Lieutenant-Colonel SYLLA Cheick Tidiane explains, “Through the VPA process, the Ivorian State wants to achieve two main objectives: accelerate the implementation of a set of reforms to improve forest governance at the national level, and verify the legality and traceability of the timber it exports to the EU market and other markets, including the national one.”