Illegal or incompatible? Managing the consequences of timber legality standards on local livelihoods


Illegal or incompatible? Managing the consequences of timber legality standards on local livelihoods

The conservation and wise use of tropical forest resources is of global concern. Recently, the international debate has been focusing on the issue of illegal logging and the legality of timber as a contribution to sustainable management of forests.

This is reflected in the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative launched by the EU. Part of the initiative is the development of voluntary partnership (trade) agreements (VPA) with a number of important timber trade partner countries. These agreements are designed to tackle illegal logging and its associated trade.In September 2008, Ghana was the first country to sign a VPA agreement with the EU. Success of the VPAs requires the associated change processes to include social and environmental issues around forestry. An important question that has been largely overlooked in FLEGT processes so far is the extent to which the VPA agreement affects the livelihoods of rural communities, especially those engaged in different commercial timber production systems which are recognized in the VPA as being either legal or illegal.

The Illegal or Incompatible? (IoI?) project (2008 - 2010) aimed at strengthening livelihood considerations in forest policy to enhance its effective implementation. The project at the interface of science and policy was carried out by local and Dutch partners in Ghana. Ghana recognise the urgency to address legality of logging practices. Partner organisations and government officials have indicated the need to have better insight into how the VPA implementation affects forest management practices and local livelihoods, as well as the need to improve communication between researchers and policy makers on how to incorporate such insights into the VPA process.

The Illegal or Incompatible? project (2008-2010) is part of the Wageningen University & Research Centre and DGIS partnership.


2008 - 2011

Objective develop broadly supported governance mechanisms that manage the consequences of VPA timber legality standards on local livelihoods; and strengthen the capacity of actors to (re)negotiate institutional arrangements for sustainable resource use.