Indonesian FLEGT licensing greeted as anti-illegal timber breakthrough

As of today, November 15, Indonesia becomes the first country to issue licences under the EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. These will exempt timber and wood products from further due diligence under the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and European operator importers are expecting to receive their first licensed cargoes before the end of the year.

by Official Indonesian Legal Wood (Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu) Twitter account.

Under the FLEGT initiative, EU supplier countries sign up to a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). This pledges them to improve forest governance, implement a timber legality assurance system and independent monitoring, auditing and licensing frameworks, and broaden stakeholder engagement in their forestry and timber sectors. 

Once these steps are taken, they are authorised by EU and their own authorities to issue FLEGT licences.

The EU and Indonesian joint implementation committee for the country’s EU FLEGT VPA announced its successful completion and the launch of FLEGT licensing earlier this year.

The process has taken Indonesia several years and seen it roll out its established SVLK timber legality assurance system to millions more hectares of forest, with thousands more timber traders, processors and manufacturers audited.  

Simultaneously in the EU, each member state has appointed a FLEGT enforcement agency, or Competent Authority.  These will now process incoming FLEGT licensed cargoes, with all products listed under Indonesia’s VPA obliged to have a licence from one of its 22 appointed licensing authorities, or be barred from the EU. Products not listed can gain entry, but operator importers still have to put them through EUTR-aligned due diligence legality assurance processes.

A FLEGT licence assures the EU buyer that timber and wood products comply with the SVLK system and, consequently, have been harvested or imported, traded, processed and exported in accordance with Indonesian law governing social, environmental and economic matters.

Both EU and Indonesian authorities hailed the issue of first licences as a step forward in the fight against illegal logging and trade, and a boost for the trade in verified legal timber and wood products into the EU.

EU traders also expressed the hope that Indonesia’s successful VPA implementation would spur other signatory supplier countries to step up progress through their Agreements. There are currently another 14 countries engaged with the FLEGT VPA initiative, five of them at implementation stage. 

In September, Putera Parthama and Charles-Michel Geurts, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei, signed the formal decision on the start date for Indonesian FLEGT licensing . Credit: EU FLEGT Facility.

“Today all of Indonesia’s timber exports are from independently audited factories and forests and our timber legality assurance system and FLEGT licensing scheme will continue to improve,” said Putera Parthama, Director General of Sustainable Management of Production Forest at Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry. “By addressing legality and meeting the EU’s high standards, we are not only trading responsibly, but also ensuring our forests support sustainable development, improve livelihoods and help address climate change,”.  

 “The EU congratulates Indonesia on its progress in bringing its forest sector under control and improving forest governance and we look forward to receiving the first shipments of verified legal, FLEGT-licensed timber, which Indonesia exported today,” said EU Ambassador to Indonesia,  Vincent Guérend.

He added that Indonesia would apply its timber legality assurance system to all exports, not just those to the EU. 

According to local reports, the first FLEGT licensed cargo, coordinated by panel sector association APKINDO, will comprise 23 containers of goods, destined for the ports of Tilbury and Liverpool in the UK, Antwerp in Belgium and Hamburg in Germany. 

One of the first operator importer recipients will be the UK's James Latham, with its FLEGT licensed goods comprising Flamebreak door blanks from Kayu Timber Indonesia, supplied via UK agents Pacific Rim Wood Ltd. Lathams said FLEGT licensed products would 'strengthen its environmental offering further'.

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