ProdJus has an ambitious outputs schedule to maintain in terms of workshops, publications and scientific communication. We will update our outputs as they are completed, but most publications will be made available in 2018 and 2019. We host some events before that time and provide information on them here. Please also see the ProdJus home page for updates on other activities.

Events (Completed)

FLEGT Environmental Justice Workshop

On April 12, 1016, ProdJus and IIED hosted a workshop in London comprising 23 participants from policy-makers, timber industry companies, NGOs, and academia. We discussed FLEGT and the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) and its impacts on different types of stakeholders in the timber and wood production industries from forest to retail shop. We exchanged experiences, ideas, opinions among sectors involved in forests and wood products and raised several points that are important to communicate to a broad range of stakeholders. The discussion guide we gave to the groups is here.

The notes from the session are available here:  UEA IIED FLEGT Workshop Notes

We benefited from not only the discussion and getting to know people involved in FLEGT, timber and wood product trading and advocates of local forest users in the Global South, but we were also able to refine our research plan based on the discussions.

Events (Planned)

Check out the Timber Legality Research Symposium on October 17, 2018.


Our publications will be submitted in 2018 to academic journals. We will list them here as they are published. We will also produce policy briefs and upload links to newspaper articles that we write.

Hansen, CP., Rutt, R., and Acheampong, E. 2018. ‘Experimental’ or business as usual? Implementing the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement in Ghana. Forest Policy and Economics (96),  Pages 75-82

In this paper, we challenge recent positive assessments made of the European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), through a case study of their implementation in Ghana. We do this through a review of the rich literature on forest governance in Ghana and the results of 160 semi-structured interviews with relevant actors in the country. While we agree that the VPA has helped establish new fora for dialogue in the forest sector in Ghana, we argue that it has not fundamentally changed the existing forest governance regime. Specifically, the VPA implementation has not changed tree tenure and benefit sharing practices, and by extension, the forestry concession system that for over 8 decades has failed to secure forest sustainability and social equity. The changes introduced through the VPA implementation – the Timber Legality Assurance System, updated forest management plans, and an artisanal milling strategy, largely represent technical fixes to deeply political processes that have long upheld unsustainable practices. Other changes such as enhanced enforcement of Social Responsibility Agreements and more transparent allocations of timber rights are improvements, but they do not fundamentally change the tenure and benefit sharing arrangement, which by any standard is inequitable. Our evidence particularly contradicts Overdevest and Zeitlin’s (2016, 2018) depiction of the country’s VPA experience as an emerging ‘experimentalist’ forest governance entailing substantive dialogue, recursive problem-solving, and policy learning. At the contrary, and paradoxically, we argue that the VPA implementation in Ghana serves to stabilize and reproduce the very forest governance regime that it set out to reform– a process that is much less ‘experimental’, and much more business as usual.

Rutt, R., Myers, R., McDermott, C. and Ramcilovik-Suominen, S.FLEGT: another forestry fad? Environmental Science and Policy (89). 266-272.

There has been recent debate around the role of ‘fads’ in global conservation measures, and the lessons they hold for achieving desired conservation and development outcomes. Fads are characterized by initially widespread enthusiasm and major mobilization of resources followed by abandonment in favor of the next fad. Debate centers less on whether such fads exist, but rather on whether they represent opportunities for incremental policy learning, or are symptomatic of the more systemic failure of a market-based conservation agenda and the reinforcement of existing power inequalities. The European Union (EU)’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan aims to prevent the trade of illegal timber among the EU and its trading partners especially in the ‘Global South’. Fifteen years since launching the Action Plan, we ask whether the processes and outcomes of FLEGT, and specifically the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), resonate with the dynamics observed in other processes dubbed ‘fads’ within conservation and development arenas, and if so, what we can learn from this. Drawing from interviews, grey literature, and scholarship, we examine FLEGT VPAs as following three key stages of a fad: (1) there is initial enthusiasm by a wide range of actors for FLEGT as something ‘new’ or ground-breaking, (2) discrepancies and disagreements emerge about its end goals, i.e. whether it’s core purpose is to distinguish legal from illegal wood in the EU marketplace, or to achieve deeper governance reforms; while the means for achieving those goals borrow heavily from previous market-based initiatives (3) actors and champions become fatigued, yet at the same time frame elements of their own involvement as a ‘success’. Identifying these fad-like characteristics calls into question the ‘newness’ of FLEGT, by uncovering its many similarities to other market-based measures such as certification that exacerbate inequalities. Hence, branding FLEGT a success without challenging its role in the unequal concentration of power and resources, is likely to further entrench these inequalities in subsequent conservation fads, while a focus on incremental learning misses the larger failures and injustices of market-based approaches and can reinforce their re-emergence.