Critical Note from the Independent Monitors “Improvement of SVLK Must Be Done Continuously To Increase Its Credibility and Accountability”

Critical Note from the Independent Monitors “Improvement of SVLK Must Be Done Continuously To Increase Its Credibility and Accountability”

Implementation of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) License as one of the achievements of Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Indonesia and the European Union have entered its third year since first implemented in November 2016. The agreement aims to ensure all timber products from Indonesia comply with the Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK). This system implemented in all timber trade chains from upstream to downstream, as a full requirement to gain FLEGT license in a framework of timber trading between Indonesia and the European Union.

The credibility of SVLK as a system to guarantee timber legality critically depends on its accountability. The roles of the government are crucial, specifically to ensure law enforcement and monitoring implemented effectively. It must be realized that there is homework to improve the credibility and accountability of this system, which is serious attention that it must be improved continuously, especially as a response to reports from independent monitoring activities.

It needs improvement efforts to address issues related to the boundary, conflict, illegal logging, environmental destruction through forest conversion, corruption practices in permits and various forms of maladministration such as misuse of transport documents. Difficulties on access to information still faced by the independent monitors, including those at the local level. Furthermore, the timber legality assurance system itself is being challenged to be more advanced to achieve sustainable forest management.

Results of a survey by Independent Market Monitoring (IMM) stated that timber exporter companies are facing a limitation on values if they put FLEGT licensed timber on their procurement policy. It is because FLEGT license considered being focused only on the legality aspect. However, most of those companies stated that their preference is to procure products certified by a third party because they use certification as a sign of sustainability. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve communication on environmental and social values of FLEGT license, not only legality compliance, because this potentials value yet to be understood by the main actors.

Independent monitoring is still facing challenges to ensure the sustainability of monitoring activities, due to limitations on funding. Strengthening capacity and skills of fund management institutions to facilitate organization’s activities and independent monitoring network must be fully supported by various stakeholders. Therefore, considering that independent monitoring is inside PHPL (Sustainable Production Forest Management) and VLK (Timber Legality Verification) certification system, there should be a distribution of resources from the system itself, to ensure sustainability of independent monitoring activities.

Moreover, the European Union timber receiver countries need to conduct serious efforts on supervision to ensure trading of legal timber products, specifically to prevent timber laundering if there is manipulation on FLEGT implementation, including laundering by certain third-party countries before the products enter the European Union consumers.

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