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Indonesia, EU agree on moves to curb illegal logging

Indonesia and the European Union on Thursday agreed that, beginning 15 November 2016, Indonesia can issue the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licences to verified legal timber products it exports to the EU.

The FLEGT Action Plan of 2003 is the EU’s initiative against illegal logging, which aims to reduce illegal logging by strengthening the sustainability and legality of forest management, improving forest governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber.

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Illegal logging. Via the issuance of FLEGT licences, EU and Indonesia hope to combat illegal logging and associated illegal timber trade

Thursday’s decision makes Indonesia the first country in the world to achieve this major milestone in the global effort to combat illegal logging and associated illegal timber trade.

The decision was made at the 5th Joint Implementation Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Indonesia-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA). Indonesia and the EU signed the Agreement in Brussels on 30 September 2013, completing negotiations of the VPA.

Indonesia has developed a system for assuring that all timber products harvested or imported, transported, traded, processed and exported comply with national laws on environmental, social and economic aspects identified by stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society. The country’s timber legality assurance system, called Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK), is subject to independent monitoring by civil society and periodic evaluation by an independent auditor. The implementation of the FLEGT licence means that the Indonesian SVLK meets the requirements of the VPA with the EU.

“Indonesia has achieved great progress in bringing its forest sector under control and improving transparency, participation and other aspects of good forest governance through a process of dialogue and compromise among all stakeholder groups,” said Putera Parthama, Director General of Sustainable Forest Management at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and co-chair of the JIC. “By addressing legality we have built the foundation for sustainable forest management and action to address climate change. We have met the high certification standards of the EU.”

In addition to improving governance and increasing government revenues, the FLEGT licence benefits timber traders. FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits operators in the EU from placing illegally harvested timber and products derived from illegal timber on the EU market. EU operators can therefore place FLEGT-licensed timber on the EU market without doing due diligence.

The JIC also agreed on joint activities until the end of 2017 through which the EU and Indonesia will oversee the continual improvement of Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system and wider VPA implementation. The plan will address continuation of the multistakeholder process, data collection, independent forest monitoring, enforcement, and monitoring the EU market for FLEGT-licenced timber products.

“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, the EU Ambassador to Indonesia and co-chair of the JIC. “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 to 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.”

The EU has already completed internal procedures to recognise FLEGT licences from Indonesia. Competent authorities and timber importers in the 28 EU Member States are now preparing to receive the world’s first shipments of FLEGT-licensed timber.

According to the EU, FLEGT contributes to efforts to limit climate change, conserve biodiversity, protect rights and increase transparency.

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