Indonesian forest monitors report on timber legality issues

Indonesia’s Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) says the country’s timber legality assurance system (SVLK) has led to “significant changes in improving good forest governance” but still has weaknesses and must be continuously improved to ensure its credibility and accountability.

Multistakeholder Forestry Programme Indonesia by MFP3

Independent monitoring by civil society is an integral part of the SVLK and of the Indonesia-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to improve forest governance and trade in legal timber products. 

In a new report, JPIK details monitoring it carried out between 2014 and 2017. During this time, the network monitored 54 companies with SVLK legality certificates or sustainable forest management certificates. JPIK also monitored and reported on cases of illegal logging and other regulatory violations and reviewed public summaries of certification assessments.

JPIK identified concerns in a number of areas, including the legality of raw materials, forest clearance in river buffer zones, boundary conflicts with indigenous communities, and the availability of environmental impact assessments. 

After JPIK submitted complaints to the independent bodies responsible for assessing and verifying conformity with SVLK standards, these bodies responded by following up with surveillance, sending warning letters to management units and requiring remedial action.

The ability of the monitors to file complaints and the timely responses of the conformity assessment bodies are major achievements of the SVLK and the VPA. JPIK urges the Indonesian government to build on these advances in forest governance with further improvements. 

It recommends ways to improve monitoring and law enforcement, including by incorporating penalties into existing regulations to deter non-compliance. It urges the government to make more data and information to support monitoring publicly available and calls for transparency about the process of handling and addressing incoming reports.

JPIK also says that the SVLK must ensure legality and sustainability are the prime factors in approval for certification. It says conformity assessment bodies should therefore pay special attention to conflict, licensing processes and forest fires as key indicators for assessment decisions. 

“Overall, this report aims to disseminate information on the progress of SVLK implementation,” said Muhamad Kosar of JPIK. “It is expected to become a reference for stakeholders as part of the effort of improving forest governance in Indonesia.”

The EU and Indonesia agreed in the 6th meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee on 1 March 2018 on an action plan for 2018 that addresses a number of issues raised by JPIK. 

Download the report [PDF]


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