Three Years of FLEGT License: Without Integrity, Agenda of Forestry Governance Improvement through SVLK Would be Slow

Three Years of FLEGT License: Without Integrity, Agenda of Forestry Governance Improvement through SVLK Would be Slow

Jakarta, 17 November 2019. The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) License has been implemented for three (3) years since first established in November 2016. Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) and other independent monitoring organizations argue that though in general FLEGT-VPA is well-implemented, problems still exist such as illegal logging, dispute and conflict on boundary, deforestation, and abuse of forest product transport document. It is challenges that needed to be resolved to strengthen the credibility of the Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK).

Indonesia is the first country that gained acknowledgment from the European Union to publish the FLEGT license through Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), so that timber export does not need to pass through due diligence. It is an achievement that must be appreciated and considered as a serious commitment from both Indonesia and the European Union on a joint effort to combat the trading of illegal timber sourced from activities that destroy the forest.

To reach that trading incentive, the stakeholders must improve collaboration to develop and maintain the system credibility and accountability, and ensure that the VPA implementation and FLEGT licensing, do not have negative impacts, especially to indigenous and local communities.

Muhammad Ichwan, JPIK Forest Campaigner underlines that monitoring and law enforcement must be improved, especially on following up reports sent by the independent investigators. Moreover, serious actions to respond to issues on the boundary that cause conflict, and illegal timber trading cases must be done.

“The system must be improved continuously to maintain the credibility and accountability of SVLK. The root problem in which a challenge for all stakeholders, is the integrity of the SVLK implementor. Though the current regulations still need to be improved, and the information and technology system on timber trading are put in place, if the stakeholders do not have the integrity, then the credibility of SVLK would slowly fade and gone,” said Ichwan.

Saving Forest Campaign Division of PPLH Mangkubumi East Java Province, Munif Rodaim said that FLEGT License that has been implemented for more than three years has resulted in positive impacts. However, it still needs strengthening especially on forestry governance and firm sanction on current violations. Law actions in the certification scheme must be increased. Monitoring and evaluation must be improved to close the gap on violation potentials, including ensuring clarity of origin of the timber circulated in the market supply chain, especially on timber trade between islands.

Damas of Panah Papua added, “There are cases of timber tracking in Papua that are doubtable, especially on the scale of sawmill industry business. There are cases that the origin of timber yet to be ensured its legality because the forest status in Papua remains legally unclear. De facto, the forest belongs to the indigenous communities, while on management legality, the forest yet to be released from its status as state forest.”

Furthermore, Mustam Arif, Director of JURnaL Celebes, said that illegal trading cases are still happening and the actors use modes adapting to the situations and utilize the gap of the regulations. One of the examples is when 422 containers of illegal timber from Papua, West Papua, and other areas in eastern Indonesia seized by the security officers in Surabaya and Makassar. Due to law enforcement operations by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Indonesian Police, a total of 15 companies lost their SVLK certificate and their industrial permit has been revoked. Moreover, six individuals sentenced with legal sanctions. Though it was successful, the law process on those cases must be monitored closely so that the sentenced verdict would concern the violation actors.

JPIK and independent monitoring civil society groups urged the Government of Indonesia, the European Union government, Certification Agency, and business actors in the forestry sector and its trade in Indonesia to:

  1. Improve the guarantee of system credibility and accountability. On this matter, to prevent, monitor, and conduct effective law enforcement that have deterrent effect; give sanction to freeze and revoke certificate that must be followed up with revokement of operational permit; improve coordination and synergy between ministries/ institutions, including the local government on prevention, monitoring, and law enforcement; the government with the certification agency must strictly check supply chain and timber distribution to ensure there are no more unlicensed timber and improvement of monitoring on distribution and use of CITES timber.
  2. The government must ensure the implementation of information services can be fast, accurate, and effective. Data and information on timber distribution in the online information system, especially Forest Product Governance Information System (SIPUHH) must be accessible for independent monitoring.
  3. Strengthen legality assurance system, conservation, and sustainability; the government must immediately revise standard and guideline of assessment with the involvement of related stakeholders; and strengthening assessment on the aspect related to the overlapping, deforestation and conflict, including reviewing regulation on use of DKP for IKM and community forest, and TPT-KB and TPT-KO permits;
  4. Ensure sustainability of the independent monitoring; the government, especially the Ministry of Environment and Forestry must realize and issue a technical regulation as the legal basis for funding support sourced from the National State Budget (APBN) as regulated in the Minister Regulation and PHPL Directorate General Regulation;
  5. Conduct revitalization and revise regulations and policies to protect the rights and access of communities around the forest as one of the stakeholders, and policy improvement to facilitate indigenous communities on forest management; FLEGT license also must be used by the Government of Indonesia for bigger interest, including parallelly conduct efforts to resolve conflict, boundary, human rights violation, and punish the actors who caused deforestation or massive environmental loss, especially caused by illegal forest conversion or anything that cause negative impacts to the communities and environment.
  6. The European Union as the receiver of Indonesian timber must ensure case handling related to the EUTR runs effectively, including preventing timber laundering from Indonesia and/or timber from the unclear source in Indonesia. The European Union also must improve guarantee through ensuring timber sourced from Indonesia, are from sustainably managed forests.

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Editor’s Note:

  • Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) was agreed and declared on 23 September 2010. To date, JPIK consists of 54 Non-government Organizations across Aceh to Papua. JPIK was established as a commitment of Indonesian civil society to actively contribute towards better forest governance.
  • SVLK is the Timber Legality Assurance System, a tracking system developed with a multi-stakeholder approach to ensure the legality of sources of timber distributed and traded in Indonesia.
  • FLEGT License provides assurance that the timber sourced from VPA countries have been harvested, processed, and exported comply with the national law. FLEGT license aims to fulfill the requirement of checking at the border and not aiming as a product label. Authority of FLEGT license giver in the partner countries lies on the FLGT License issuer for timber and timber products shipment exported to the European Union countries. The letter is evidence that the shipment has complied with the regulations.
  • Critical notes by the independent monitoring can be downloaded through this link: https://jpik.or.id/catatan-kritis-pemantau-independen-perbaikan-sistem-harus-dilakukan-secara-terus-menerus-agar-kredibilitas-dan-akuntabilitas-svlk-terus-meningkat/

Contacts for interview:

Muh.Ichwan, JPIK: 0815 5650 859; ichwan.jpik@gmail.com

Munif Rodaim, PPLH Mangkubumi: 0822 1304 5602; pplhmangkubumijatim@gmail.com

Damas, Panah Papua: 0852 4394 4735; damianussay@gmail.com Mustam Arif, Direktur JURnaL Celebes: 0812 4151 6663; mustamarif@gmail.com