In accordance with the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the Republic of the Congo and the European Union, SOFRECO (lead) and Preferred by Nature (formerly known as NEPCon) have partnered, to conduct independent audits of the national Legality Assurance System (LAS). These audits were aimed at guaranteeing credibility and reliability for the LAS.
The general objective of the VPA was to help build and improve forest governance and the sustainable management of natural resources in the Republic of the Congo. This reduces climate change by trough lower GHG emissions, and limits biodiversity loss. The specific objective of the assignment of the Independent Auditor System was to audit the LAS, identify gaps therein, evaluate the efficiency of corrective measures, and check the use of licences upon entry into the EU market.
The audit of the LAS must reassure operators and authorities of the fact that the FLEGT licences issued are based on a strong and reliable LAS and comply with the commitments made under the VPA. This assurance gave the FLEGT licences delivered by the Congo the credibility on which the entire FLEGT system is based.
Project approach and Preferred by Nature’s role in the project was
To ensure the credibility of the system, the VPA provides for the hiring of an independent auditor by the government of the Republic of Congo, following approval by the Joint Committee, to verify periodically its implementation, including compliance checks that the verification system remains in place.
Preferred by Nature’s role as a partner on the project was to mobilize the team experts which assess the verification of the LAS. This was done by preparing and implementing numerous audits in the country. The conclusions from the reports elaborated support the national authorities and strengthen the LAS to enable a FLEGT license for Congo in the future.
The picture below shows the audit of the present and planned LAS procedures and control procedures by the Independent System Auditor and his team in Congo.
Results of the project
- The verification of the governance system behind the issuance of FLEGT export licences
- Verification of the conformance of the Congolese administration with more than 50 laws regarding forest management and timber trade
- Among many other topics strengthening the right to community participation in forest management by the obligation to inform stakeholders that live in the forest and the obligation to consult neighbouring stakeholders during audits conducted by the independent auditor.