Indonesia bans exports of illegally harvested timber
Stepping up its fight against illegal logging, the government began the implementation early this month of a ban on exports of illegally harvested wood and wood products.
The government made it mandatory for forestry companies to obtain official certificates to show that timber has been legally sourced without damaging forests. The policy has been deemed necessary since according to official statistics illegal logging activities have been destroying more than 1 million hectares of forests each year.
“If a source of timber is untraceable, it will be categorized as illegal and byproducts will be ineligible for export to markets in the EU,” Hadi Daryanto, the director general of forest product development
at the Forestry Ministry, told The Jakarta Post.
The Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) would be applied for industrial forest concessions (HTI), production forest concessions (HPH) and community plantation forests (HTR).
“We also want to fight trade fostered by illegal logging,” Hadi said.
The new requirement was issued after the European Parliament voted in favor of a ban on the sale of illegally harvested timber and timber products in the European market.
The EU regulation on importation of illegal timber, previously known as “due diligence” is expected to be fully in place by 2013.
The Countries that sign the EU-based Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) would be considered in compliance with EU timber regulations, Hadi said.
“We have long demanded that once we sign the VPA, timber from Indonesia will be subject to due diligence,” he said.
The agreement is an EU licensing scheme to ensure all timber products entering EU member countries have been produced legally.
“The European Commission delegation has agreed in principle with the standard developed under Indonesia’s SVLK system,” Hadi added.
Indonesia and the European Commission began negotiations on the VPA in January 2007.
A technical meeting between both parties is scheduled for this month in Jakarta to clarify the details of the agreement before it is signed later this year.
“We should have the annexes completed by the end of October,” Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) VPA facilitator Andy Roby told the Post, adding that experts from the European Union and Indonesia would meet in Jakarta to further discuss Indonesia’s SVLK system.
“The [SVLK] standard is already accepted by stakeholders in Indonesia. Now we just need to complete the system,” he said.
Roby said there was a need to appoint an agency that would take responsibility for licensing control before exporting wood and wood products.
There are currently five independent institutions that have been accredited by the National Accreditation Committee (KAN) to check whether harvested timber is legal.
The five institutions are PT Sucofindo, PT Mutuagung Lestari, PT Mutu Hijau Indonesia, PT TUV International Indonesia and the Forest Industry Revitalization Board (BRIK).
Previously, BRIK was the only institution able to certify wood and wood products in Indonesia.
Indonesia, home to 120 million hectares of forests, exports about 33 percent of its timber products to the EU market each year.
Activists have long maintained that much of Indonesia’s illegal timber has been shipped to other countries, including China and Malaysia, before being exported as sawn timber and finished wood products to international markets in Europe and the United States.
The EU is currently negotiating its VPAs with a number of countries, including Malaysia.