Illegal Logging Unlikely to End Unless All Companies Follow Rules
Efforts to stem illegal logging by requiring Indonesian timber exports to be certified will prove futile if cheaper, uncertified wood continues to be available on the market, officials said on Tuesday.
Diah Raharjo, director of the Multistakeholder Forestry Program, a collaboration between the Indonesian and British governments, said progress was being made in getting logging firms to comply but there was still much work to do.
“We’ve been pushing for the 27 countries in the European Union to close down the illegal market for timber products because it would be useless if we have these products certified but they still keep on buying cheap [uncertified] wood and timber products,” she said.
Diah was speaking during a media visit to several sustainable certified logging concessions in East Kalimantan.
She added that the European Union responded by approving the EU Due Diligence Regulation in 2010, which outlaws the import of illegally felled timber.
Listya Kusuma Wardhani, the Forestry Ministry’s director of forestry products and fees development, said it was important that consumers realized why they should pay more for certified timber than for illegally logged wood.
“It all goes back to the buyers. They need to be concerned about the issue of certified legal products,” she said. “The concept of buying certified legal products is still not globally understood.
“That’s why these products still have difficulty competing in the market. If the consumers know that these products are produced in sustainable ways, then they would understand that they need to pay a much more for them.”
Andrew Mitchell, secretary of state for the British government’s Department for International Development, said his office was supportive of Indonesia’s efforts to ensure that all timber exports were legal and certified.
“We want to give all possible encouragement for the [forestry] minister and Indonesian government to ensure that the wood that is exported to Europe and Britain is not illegally logged and that it’s harvested in a sustainable and open way,” he said.
Mitchell was speaking after a visit to a certified sustainable logging concession in East Kalimantan’s North Penajam Paser district.
“That’s why the EU and Britain made it clear that in a short period of time, we would need to see that all wood [imports] are properly harvested according to rules and regulations and not [sourced from] illegal logging.”
Efforts to certify timber exports to the EU as sustainable began in 2002 with the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance & Trade initiative’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement, known as FLEGT-VPA. The idea was to set up bilateral and voluntarily agreements between wood-producing countries and the EU.
Since 2007, Indonesia has made various efforts to get producers to voluntarily certify their products, leading in 2009 to a regulation on the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK).
Diah said the SVLK regulation had been revised so that effective this year “it’s mandatory for companies to get their timber products certified as legal products.”
“The target is that by March 2013, all timber products going to the EU will be legal,” she said.
To date, 157 of the estimated 300 timber and wood companies in the country have had their operations certified as legal, she said.
“We also have five community plantation forests certified as legal, so we still have lots of work left to do,” Diah said.
SVLK compliance, she added, will also be mandatory for small and medium operators.
“All certified timber marked as legal will be given a barcode containing information on how the trees were planted and harvested, where they were harvested from and even how they are shipped,” she said. “So everything can be traced back.”