The Common Folk Monitor – Dynamics of SVLK Monitoring by Indigenous/Local Communities in Indonesia

The Common Folk Monitor – Dynamics of SVLK Monitoring by Indigenous/Local Communities in Indonesia

Surabaya, September 14, 2021. Monitoring results in five provinces found several violations in the implementation of the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK). In the upstream, for example, the concession holder and the primary industry work together to practice illegal logging outside the concession. Two illegalities (timber and documents) were ‘transformed’ into legal and S-LK certified. Another finding was that the Timber Utilization Permit (IPK) was disguised as a farmer group carrying out illegal logging outside the permit area but claimed to have originated from the permit location.

In downstream, Surabaya and Gresik are destinations for illegal timber from various regions outside Java, such as Papua, Maluku, and Kalimantan. Legal action is mostly carried out at the port of arrival, rarely at the port of departure. In addition, timber buyers with legal transactions are difficult to prosecute like suppliers who carry out illegal logging.

Meanwhile, the permit for export companies in Semarang was found to have abused by selling V-Legal documents to business actors who do not have S-LK.

In detail, of the 32 timber companies monitored, 34 reported reports to related parties, including: 11 companies reported to the Timber Legality Verification Agency (LVLK) for findings of SVLK violations; 7 companies were reported to law enforcement for indications of forest crime violations; 2 companies were reported to the Department of Environment and Forestry because of environmental issues; and 14 companies were reported to the Director General of PHPL of the Ministry of LHK because they were indicated to have violated export provisions which LVLK had not acted upon.

In the field, from upstream, downstream to export, there are still deviations/violations of SVLK provisions and forestry violations as shown in the following table:

  • Upstream
  1. Forgery of timber documents legalized with a timber certificate from the Land Rights Owner (PHAT).
  2. Timber Utilization Permit [IPK] under the guise of a farmer group carrying out illegal logging outside the IPK area, the timber resulting from logging is claimed to have come from the IPK location.
  3. The company uses the claims of indigenous peoples over their customary forests, as a mode of mobilizing communities to carry out illegal logging.
  4. Doing logging outside the concession permit but legalized with a timber certificate as if the wood came from within the concession permit.
  5. There are still companies that do not report the realization of the fulfillment of raw materials in the RPBBI.
  • Downstream
  1. The company manipulates the logs of wood mutations as if the wood came from a certain company, even though the wood is the result of illegal logging.
  2. Manipulating timber transport documents by passing through various companies as if the wood had actually moved places when it wasn’t. This is done to obscure the origin of the timber which actually comes from illegal timber. This is also used as a mode to anticipate loopholes in the SVLK provisions which only track timber one step back.
  3. Do not report the mutation of wood to the Certification Agency or the relevant Service as it actually happened.
  4. Using a different certification body from the previous certification body, after the company has revoked its legality certificate.
  • Market
  1. From the results of monitoring in the field, it shows that there has been a V-Legal abuse practice involving as many as dozens of non-producer exporters
  2. Non-Producer Exporters act as V-legal document service providers, forwarders/EMKL act as intermediaries/brokers/negotiators, while MSMEs are the buyers of V-legal documents.
  3. The price for buying and selling V-Legal documents is 2 million rupiahs up to 8 million rupiahs per container, the difference in V-legal prices is based on the type of HS Code
  4. Weak supervision by the Timber Legality Verification Agency (LVLK) on non-producer exporters has an impact on the proliferation of buying and selling of V-legal documents
  5. The address of the Non-Producer Exporter is not the same as that stated in the results of the LVLK assessment.

Bruno Cammaert, Coordinator of the FAO-EU FLEGT Program for Asia and the Pacific said “Independent Monitors are an integral part of the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) in Indonesia. Independent Monitors have worked closely with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to identify illegal practices in the timber and forestry business, as well as support law enforcement actions against these illegal practices. Independent Monitors have contributed to international recognition of the SVLK and helped maintain its integrity. This provides an avenue for Civil Society to play a formal role in forest governance” said Bruno.

Agus Budi Purwanto, Spokesperson of PPLH Mangkubumi said, “Document falsification is the most common mode of forestry crime. In addition, exporters can easily steal profits from buying and selling V-Legal documents. If this practice is allowed to continue, it will damage the credibility of the SVLK which has been promoted to the international level, as a system for preventing illegal logging and trafficking of illegal timber.”

Deden Pramudiana, Campaigner of JPIK added, “There must be strict sanctions that provide a deterrent effect for forest crime perpetrators. Sanctions also need to be given to Certification Bodies (CBs) that do not carry out procedures, because several times JPIK has submitted complaints to CBs regarding misuse of V-Legal documents, the answers from CBs have been unsatisfactory and seem to cover up mistakes from the CBs. license holder. In addition, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry through the UPT Forestry and the local Forestry Service must tighten supervision over the implementation of the SVLK, so that the credibility of the SVLK can be maintained.”

On the other hand, the issuance of Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation 08 of 2021 is a big challenge ahead for Independent Monitors. In this regulation, apart from changing the nomenclature related to forest governance, the biggest concern is that protected forests may be subject to permits.

Agus Budi Purwanto, Spokesperson of PPLH Mangkubumi said that “information disclosure is the key to face the big challenges ahead in supervision. Access to SIPUHH data, export-import data and other supporting data is very much needed for monitoring.”
In line with Agus Budi Purwanto, responding to the issuance of Permen LHK 08 of 2021, Deden Pramudiana also added “in the previous regulation related to SVLK, monitoring of SVLK activities was carried out by Independent Monitors, but in PermenLHK regulation 08 of 2021 there was the word ‘can’, this is ambiguous in the eyes of the independent monitors.”