Here at last. EU importers welcome first FLEGT-licensed timber

It’s not often that some planks of wood make history. But the Indonesian plywood and other products that arrived in Europe in recent weeks deserve that accolade.

FLEGT licensed plywood has arrived at European traders' warehouses by Global Timber Forum

They were the first ever imports bearing FLEGT licences, which attest to their legality and automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, meaning operators can place them on the market without further due diligence checks.

Of several countries implementing Voluntary Partnership Agreements with the EU, Indonesia is the first to have reached the goal of FLEGT licensing.

The first Belgian companies to receive its FLEGT-licensed products included Fepco and Altripan. In an interview published by the Global Timber Forum, their CEOs Alexander de Groot and Koen de Witte said FLEGT-licensed timber was good for business.

The welcomed the fact that due diligence was no longer required, and said customers who had avoided tropical timber in the past may be interested in Indonesian products now they can be sure they are legal.

They expect Indonesia to see trade benefits, but urged governments in the EU to help promote FLEGT licensed wood – by incorporating it in public procurement rules, for instance.

Both de Witte and de Groot highlighted the need for EU-based operators to also raise awareness that Indonesia’s FLEGT-licensed products are legally-sourced.

The first Spanish importer of FLEGT-licensed products was the online furniture store Ohcielos. Its CEO Paco Costa said the milestone was "the best proof” of the Spanish furniture sector’s commitment to optimal environmental management in its manufacturing processes.

One of the first UK companies to receive FLT was James Lathams Ltd. At a dockside ceremony to welcome the UK’s first shipments of FLEGT-licensed timber, on 16 January, its chairman Piers Latham said: "The FLEGT licence will help assure UK-based companies about the legality of Indonesian timber and wood products.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UK, Rizal Sukma said the arrival of FLEGT-licensed timber was “the result of hard work from a number of parties that continuously monitored the implementation of the timber legality verification system.”

Read the full GTF interview with Alexander de Groot and Koen de Witte

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