On April 21, 2016, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a joint statement that the European Union and Indonesia agreed to immediately take steps towards implementing the first FLEGT licensing scheme, which is the efforts of both parties to reduce illegal logging and promote trade in legal timber.

The implementation of the FLEGT licensing scheme is one of the main achievements of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Indonesia and the European Union regarding Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) that has been signed in 2013 and ratified in 2014. Recent developments in Indonesia with the issuance of Minister of Trade Regulation No. 25 of 2016 have ensured that all Indonesian timber products must meet the timber legality assurance system (TLAS) which is marked by the issuance of V-legal documents for exported wood products. The timber legality assurance system, known as the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) in Indonesia, is applied throughout the timber trade chain from upstream to downstream, as a complete component to obtain a FLEGT license within the framework of Indonesia’s timber trade with the European Union. With the implementation of the FLEGT license, it is hoped that not only will the strengthening of the economic value of timber trade between Indonesia and the European Union be a legal and sustainable timber trade incentive, but also become a continuous improvement for better management, especially in the forestry and trade sectors.

This development certainly needs to be appreciated and read as the seriousness of all parties in Indonesia and the European Union towards joint efforts to deal with illegal timber trade and forest destruction. However, it should be noted that trade incentives will not be achieved, if stakeholders do not work together to build and maintain credibility and prepare mitigative safeguards for the negative impacts that may occur from the implementation of the FLEGT license (for example when certain irregularities occur), especially for indigenous peoples and local communities whose sources of livelihood originate or also depend on the existence and sustainability of forests.

There are still challenges in forestry governance and law enforcement that are homework, to continually strive for improvement and improvement. Problems relating to information transparency, boundaries in the control / utilization and management of forests, conflicts, environmental destruction through forest conversion, corruption and other forms of mal-administration still occur. In addition, the timber legality assurance system itself needs to be further challenged to achieve sustainable forest management.

The credibility of the SVLK as a system of guaranteeing timber legality will greatly depend on how the system’s accountability is achieved. In this case the role of the Government becomes crucial, especially ensuring that the supervision and enforcement of the law runs effectively when there are deviations. It must be realized that homework to build accountability – and therefore credibility, is important to be one of the points of concern to improve its improvement in real terms, especially related to government steps in responding to violation reports submitted by independent monitors in the SVLK scheme. If accountability and law enforcement are not implemented effectively, this does not only erode credibility, but instead becomes a wrong incentive so that it builds rent-seeking behavior in the certified timber market. In the same context, supervision is not only imposed on the side of Indonesia, the European Union also needs to pursue the same steps to ensure the legal timber trade, through the transparency of timber product trade between Indonesia and the European Union, and the implementation of the EU Timber Regulation / EUTR in all countries European Union members (who come from any country) are real, effective, and firm.

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