Indonesia and EU announce FLEGT licensing launch

Indonesia and the European Union has agreed that from 15 November Indonesia can start FLEGT licensing of verified legal timber products it exports to the EU.

Traceability is key to FLEGT licensing by Photo: MFP3

The date for the start of licensing, which will exempt timber and wood products from EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) due diligence, was announced today September 15 by the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC), which oversees implementation of the Indonesia-EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). The Committee's decision, it said, makes Indonesia "the first country to achieve this major milestone in the global effort to combat illegal logging and associated illegal timber trade”.

Under the VPA, Indonesia has developed a system for assuring all timber products listed in the agreement comply with relevant national laws on environmental, social and economic aspects identified by stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society. The system, called SVLK, is independently monitored by civil society.

“Indonesia has achieved great progress in bringing its forest sector under control and improving transparency, participation and other aspects of good governance through dialogue and compromise among all stakeholders," said Putera Parthama, JIC co-chair and Director General of Sustainable Forest Management at Indonesia's Ministry of Environment and Forestry. "By addressing legality we have built the foundation for sustainable forest management and action to address climate change." The JIC also agreed activities for 2017 for the EU and Indonesia to oversee continual improvement of Indonesia’s legality assurance system and wider VPA implementation.

“The decision to begin FLEGT licensing is a landmark achievement in a partnership that links EU businesses and consumers with legal traders in Indonesia,” said Vincent Guérend, EU Ambassador to Indonesia and JIC co-chair. “By guaranteeing legality, FLEGT licences should not only make business more efficient for traders in both Indonesia and the EU, but also strengthen governance and ensure fairness for all forest stakeholders. They are the result of increasing transparency and better accountability and stakeholder participation in decisions about forests. Today all of Indonesia's timber exports are from independently audited factories and forests.” FLEGT licensed cargoes are expected in the EU before the end of 2016, with Belgium and the UK among likely first points of entry.