Indonesia takes another step towards reducing illegal logging

Indonesia and the EU are taking a step towards the start of the first ever Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing scheme on legally produced tropical timber.

The agreement between Indonesian President Joko Widodo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and European Council President Donald Tusk was to reduce illegal logging and promote trade in legally produced timber between the EU and Indonesia.

The joint assessment showed that Indonesia is fully ready to implement the Indonesia-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), based on the inclusion of all relevant product groups in the scope of the Agreement.

With this breakthrough the two Parties are now in a position to move swiftly towards a fully operational licencing system making Indonesia the first country to pass this final hurdle.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, “Indonesia and its partners in the EU have shown that trade can provide incentives towards ending the scourge of illegal logging. Such practices cost developing nations billions in lost revenues, lead to destruction of unique ecosystems and exacerbate poverty. Today’s announcement is a signal to markets that it is possible to promote sustainable forest management by buying verified legally produced timber.”


The Indonesia-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement. It aims to ensure that only legal timber and timber products from Indonesia reach the EU market.

In addition to promoting legal trade, the VPA addresses the causes of illegality by improving forest governance and law enforcement. A major strength of the VPA is that it looks beyond trade to consider development and environmental issues, as well as how policies affect local populations.

The EU-Indonesia VPA is one of 15 such agreements the EU is negotiating or implementing with timber producing countries in South East Asia and Africa. Together these countries cover 24% of the world’s tropical forests and supply 80% of the EU’s tropical timber imports. A VPA partner country that has implemented a timber legality assurance system and other VPA commitments can issue verified legal timber products with FLEGT licences. The advantage is FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which prohibits EU operators from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market. The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan is the EU’s response to the problem of illegal logging.

To address the issue at EU level, the European Commission adopted the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. The plan aims to close the EU market to illegal timber products through several actions, amongst which two key elements are the EU Timber Regulation and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements. FLEGT-licenses are issued through a control system that assures the legality of timber and timber products. The EU buys 11%, by value, of timber products and paper exported from Indonesia. Indonesia supplies 33% of the EU’s tropical timber imports by value.

Source: European Commission