The Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) has been mandatorily implemented since 2009 in Indonesia. It aims to improve forestry governance and trade. With this new policy, illegal logging and illegal timber trade are expected to stop. In December 2018 to February 2019, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) have seized more than 400 containers of processed timber in Surabaya and Makassar. The Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) continues to monitor those cases and hope that it can serve as lessons for the Government of Indonesia (GoI) and related stakeholders to prevent similar cases happen in the future. We really appreciate the MoEF for the law enforcement processes as proof that the system works. However, many stakeholders must continue to improve and put effort to ensure no loopholes and chances of violation by certain parties who only seek profit in forest business practices in Indonesia.

In the same period, threats to weaken TLAS happened repeatedly and done by those who do not want to ensure that the forest is preserved and maintained sustainably. In recent months, news coverage framing TLAS as an obstacle for exports activities were spreading. It also mentioned that export on timber products decreased because of the TLAS. Whereas, the opposite is that TLAS impacts on the increasing export of timber products and its derivative products. Many stakeholders, part of the entity that involved to develop the system are committed despite the effort and threats to weaken the TLAS. They are agreed to improve coordination and communication to share information and roles to strengthen the system.

Based on the JPIK monitoring, the existence of advanced industry must be carefully considered by many parties, since the biggest forest crime cases investigated by Directorate General of Law Enforcement of MoEF from 2018 to 2019 are on processed timber. The problem lies on fulfillment of raw material supply for the processed timber industry. It is indicated that practices of falsifying Timber Mutation Sheet (LMK), Timber Legality Certificate (SLK), Legal Forest Validity Certificate (SKSHH), and other violations are still rampant.

As an effort to improve economic life of the communities, and at the same time to supply timber needs for the industry and decrease rate of deforestation, the government have issued Ministry of Environment and Forestry Regulation on Social Forestry No. 83 Year 2016 and No. 39 Year 2017 on Forest Utilization Permit on state-owned enterprise, Perhutani. With those regulations, farmers around the forests are becoming the main actor who manages the forest and given legal access for 35 years to utilize the forest in sustainable ways.

Furthermore, there is a news based on the independent investigators monitoring works on Forest Management Unit (FMU) in Aceh, that illegal logging and forest encroaching problems yet to be addressed. It is concerning how difficult it is to eradicate illegal logging without the involvement of all related stakeholders.

Exclusion for the Sake of ‘Conservation’: A Lesson Learned from the Ujung Kulon National Park Case can be read at the end of this newsletter. It criticizes conservation and environment issues are used as justification and “mask” to legitimize marginalization and removal of communities from their livelihood or simply known as ‘The Green Grabbing’.

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