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International Partnerships

Forests cover around 30% of the Earth’s land area providing priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits at local, national and global levels. We rely on forests for wood, energy, food and medicine. Forests are pillars of their communities creating jobs, providing shelter and holding cultural, social and spiritual values. Forests perform key ecosystem services such as contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, preventing desertification and soil erosion, alleviating the effects of natural disasters, cleaning the air and water and protecting biodiversity.

Worldwide, around 1.6 billion people, including 2000 indigenous cultures, depend on forests for their livelihoods. Sustainable management of this valuable resource is crucial – and it is just as vital for the society as a whole, as forests contribute at least €180 billion per year to the world economy.

Measuring trees, Suriname
© EU/GCCA+/Harvey Lisse

Our approach

Forests have long been vulnerable to a number of threats and are today closer than ever to a critical tipping point. Alongside natural challenges such as droughts, wildfires and diseases, forest cover is decreasing at dangerous levels due to illegal logging, deforestation and forest degradation.

The EU has been supporting the efforts of partner countries to preserve their forests and to contribute to sustainable, inclusive economies and societies. Between 2014 and 2020, EU development cooperation funding invested more than €650 million to support forest-related programmes in partner countries. We are successfully supporting the flagship initiatives ECOFAC, and the fight against climate change through UN-REDD+ and EUROCLIMA+.

Illegal logging - 'FLEGT'

The EU policy to fight illegal logging and associated trade was defined in 2003 with the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. The FLEGT Action Plan includes a wide range of measures aimed at bringing together governments and stakeholders to address jointly illegal logging and its associated trade. The keystone of this approach is the Voluntary Partnership Agreements concluded between the EU and interested Partner countries that aim at a transformational change by addressing the root causes of illegal logging and ensuring trade in legally and sustainably harvested timber. The Directorate-General for International Partnerships is currently negotiating and implementing VPAs with 10 partner countries.


In the face of alarming threats from deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and globally, the Commission issued in 2019 a Communication to step up the efforts to protect and restoring the world’s forests. The Communication addresses the EU consumption of deforestation and forest degradation linked products and proposes to work in partnership with producer countries to reduce pressures on forests.

The EU is furthermore countering the trade in illegally harvested timber and timber products – EU timber regulation - by prohibiting the entry on the EU market of illegally harvested timber and requiring EU traders who place timber products on the EU market for the first time to exercise 'due diligence'.

Our support

The EU hosts several facilities that supports policies and works with partner countries. 


The VPA Africa-Latin America Facility supports the implementation of the EU FLEGT Action Plan with a focus on Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) in Africa and Latin America.

EU REDD Facility

The REDD Facility supports developing countries to improve land-use governance as part of their efforts to slow, halt and reverse deforestation.

EU Forest for the Future Facility

The Forest for the Future Facility focuses on Forest Partnerships to contribute to healthy forest ecosystems in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

The Tenure Facility

The Tenure Facility offers grants and technical assistance directly to indigenous peoples and local communities in their efforts to secure tenure, with a particular focus on mitigating climate change, reducing conflict and promoting gender equality.