Indonesia can now issue FLEGT licenses for wood products shipped to EU

By EU FLEGT Facility

Indonesia and the European Union today agreed that from 15 November 2016 Indonesia can issue ‘FLEGT’ licences to verified legal timber products it exports to the EU.

Putera Parthama (left), Director General of Sustainable Forest Management at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry; Charles-Michel Geurts, Deputy Head of Delegation at the EU Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei.

The 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.

It means that, for the first time ever, the EU is exempting an entire country’s timber exports from the requirements of its EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which prohibits trade in illegally harvested timber products.

As FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the EUTR requirements, EU-based importers will not need to do further due diligence before placing them on the market.

The first FLEGT-licensed products from Indonesia will reach the EU market this year. Any Indonesian timber products listed in the VPA’s annex on product scope and shipped to the EU after 15 November will not be permitted to enter the EU market unless they are FLEGT-licensed.

Indonesia and the EU made the decision on 15 September at a meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee, which oversees implementation of the Indonesia-EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

As part 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.

“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.”

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 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,” said Guérend. “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.

Another 14 countries are negotiating or implementing VPAs with the EU. Ghana is at an advanced stage of VPA implementation ahead of FLEGT licensing.