Landmark Legal Timber Trade Deal Between Indonesia and EU Comes Into Effect Today

JAKARTA: The landmark Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing agreement between the European Union and Indonesia officially came into effect today to keep illegal logged timber out of EU supply chains.

More than a decade of work and negotiations have led to this moment, demonstrating that Indonesia’s Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) has been recognised as fit for purpose by the EU. Indonesia’s TLAS system is called SVLK-

The challenge now remains for Indonesia to consistently implement the TLAS with credibility and accountability.

After 14 years of system development and nine years in a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the EU, Indonesia has finally become the first country in the world to be granted a FLEGT licence. In future, timber products from Indonesia will not need to go through due dilligence process and will automatically enter the green lane of customs on arrival in the EU.

However, Indonesia must continue to work hard to maintain the credibility of the system through proven serious commitment to act on findings of TLAS implementation violations. Various violation reports submitted by independent investigators – such as findings on maladministration, license forgery and fraud through practices of borrowing other company names – must be followed up with effective law enforcement. Moreover, strengthening the TLAS standard through improvement of various policies is also critical in order to achieve sustainable and just forest management.

Muhamad Kosar, National Coordinator of Indonesia’s Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK), said: “This progress must be appreciated and taken as proof of serious commitment from various stakeholders in Indonesia in an effort to reform the forestry sector formally rife with illegality and corruption. This initiative has forced various stakeholders to improve and demonstrate their accountability, which in the long term will improve forest governance.

“To date, TLAS is the one and only system in the world that was developed with multi-stakeholder participation to root out the illegal timber trade and deforestation.

“Through this scheme, all timber business actors and their practices are now being audited to ensure compliance to law and regulation.”.

Faith Doherty, Forest Campaign Leader with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: “The European Union must carry the same burden of responsibility as the Government of Indonesia to ensure EU countries only receive legal timber.

“Moreover, the EU must continue to strengthen the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation and ensure appropriate monitoring and law enforcement, while also swiftly following up information on illegal timber trade entering the EU, including information submitted by independent investigators.”

CONTACTS FOR INTERVIEW:

Muhamad Kosar, JPIK – mkosar.jpik[at]gmail.com
Faith Doherty, EIA – faithdoherty[at]eia-international.org

EDITOR’S NOTES:

  • Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan or JPIK, is an independent Forest Monitoring Network established on September 23, 2010 with 64 NGOs members stretching from Aceh to Papua. JPIK’s core mandate is to monitor and strengthen the SVLK and its implementation as a key tool in bringing about better forestry and trade governance.
  • The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK-based environmental charity focused on environmental crime. EIA has investigated illegal logging  in Indonesia since 1999 and has been centrally involved in the development of Voluntary Partnership Agreements, including that in Indonesia.
  • Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) are bilateral agreements between timber-producing countries and the European Union (EU), seeking to eliminate trade in illegal timber and wood products. VPAs involve the negotiation of Timber Legality Assurance Systems, which underpin VPA Licences issued against verified legal timber consignments. VPA Licensed timber shipments are offered a “Green Lane” into the EU market and are exempt from the EU Timber Regulation – which itself prohibits illegal timber trade in the EU.
  • The SVLK is the legal base underpinning the VPA in Indonesia. The SVLK is a mandatory requirement for all timber producers, processors and exporters to be independently audited for compliance with a Legality Verification standard that includes criteria, indicators, verifiers, verification methods, and assessment norms developed through a multi-stakeholder negotiation process.
  • FLEGT licensing is recognition of the SVLK (full implementation of the VPA), so the EU no longer needs to perform due diligence. FLEGT licensing cannot begin until a joint assessment of the timber legality assurance system by Indonesia and the EU confirms that the system is fully operational, as described in the VPA. The evaluation criteria are defined in Annex VIII of the VPA.
  • On September 15, 2016, JPIK issued a Statement entitled ‘Enforcement of FLEGT License must become a landmark for sustainability in improving forest governance’ for more information please following this link: http://jpik.or.id/enforcement-of-flegt-licence-must-become-a-landmark-for-sustainability-in-improving-forest-governance/