Indonesia becomes the first country in the world obtaining FLEGT certificate
The year 2016 has marked a new momentum for Indonesia's timber industry as the first FLEGT-licensed wood product from Indonesia was shipped to the European Union (EU) in November. To this success, the SWITCH-Asia project "Timber Indonesia," which was implemented during 2013 - 2016 and led by WWF Indonesia, has its share. The project has been engaged in the policy advocacy, which eventually resulted in the adoption of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT).
The FLEGT voluntary partnership agreement (VPA) is a legally-binding bilateral trade agreement aiming to improve forest governance and promote trade in legal timber from Indonesia to the EU. Indonesia's Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS), also known as Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), is the basis for the VPA.
According to a data released by the Ministry of Forestry and Environment (November 2016), 2,322 industries in Indonesia have passed SVLK and possess V-legal certificate, allowing them to export directly. A proper implementation of SVLK will be the basis for sustainable forest management throughout the country.
Indonesia becomes the first country in the world to send FLEGT-licensed wood products to the EU without any further due diligence. The country is one of the world's largest exporters of tropical timber products, ranging from plywood, pulp and paper to furniture and handicrafts. In 2015 Indonesia's timber product export to Europe reached EUR 824 million. In addition, China, Japan and Korea are the main importers of Indonesia's forest products.
Successful Policy Advocacy
In 2015 the Ministry of Trade issued Regulation No. 89/2015 requiring all timber products destined for export to have SVLK certification, except furniture. The regulation posed a new challenge to the "Timber Indonesia" project, as it had been working to promote legal timber certification and sustainable forest management. Therefore, together with various timber associations, NGOs and the Ministry of Forest and Environment the project was embarking in policy advocacy through media, direct communication with a presidential expert team and the Ministry of Trade, requesting a revision to the 2015 regulation. Eventually in 2016 this advocacy proved to be successful as the Ministry of Trade revised its policy and issued Regulation No. 25/2016, requiring SVLK certification 'without exceptions' for all timber products from Indonesia.
Working with Timber SMEs
During the project, the capacity of 355 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 10 cities (located in Java, Bali, Kalimantan and Sumatra) was strengthened through trainings on SVLK. Out of this number, 29 SMEs obtained SVLK certification and were enabled to implement better chain of custody.
Not only addressing timber-related companies, "Timber Indonesia" also raised public awareness on the issue of timber legality. By participating in various trade fairs and engaging with the media, it reached out to buyers, business associations and Indonesian citizens.
"FLEGT license will have a positive impact on Indonesia's sustainable timber trade. We call both on the Indonesian government and the EU to ensure that the Indonesian timber licensing scheme is properly enforced and monitored by independent groups, so it can be a foundation for sustainability," says Mr. Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Market Transformation Leader, WWF-Indonesia.
The Indonesian government also need to ensure civil society organisations (CSOs) have access to information and planning processes. Holding up such information would greatly decrease credibility and transparency of the SVLK system, he further said. With SLVK/FLEGT adoption, Indonesia is on its way combating illegal logging and setting example for other countries to engage in global forest protection.
Author: Kartika Anggraeni (SWITCH-Asia Network Facility), Nur Maliki Arifiandi (WWF Indonesia)