Recommendations to Improve Legal Timber Production and Trade

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  • TEMPO.COMakassar - The civil society organization Jurnal Celebes presented the results of one year of activities today, Dec. 4, in Makassar, conducted as part of the project "Strengthening Indonesia’s Independent Forestry Monitoring Network to Ensure a Credible Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) and Effective VPA Implementation". The project is implemented through the support of the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme.

    From October 2018 to December 2019, JURnaL Celebes monitored activities for the management, distribution and trade of timber in the provinces of North Maluku, Central Sulawesi, and Southeast Sulawesi – important areas for timber production, and in the provinces of South Sulawesi and East Java - key wood processing centers in Indonesia.

    Independent on-the-ground monitoring activities by civil society support the effective implementation of both the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) and the Indonesia-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which aims to improve forest governance and trade in legal timber products by encouraging more transparent forestry management in compliance with national legislation.

    Jurnal Celebes, representing the Independent Forestry Monitoring Network (JPIK) in the South Sulawesi Region, presented findings and recommendations of the project to representatives of civil society, national authorities and representatives of international organizations as well as the European Union.

    In their report, Jurnal Celebes identified concerns related to forest harvesting and extraction, such as logging outside concession areas leading to conflicts with communities; using registered wooden shelters to launder timber from outside concession areas, and the absence of environmental impact assessments. Further down the supply chain, Independent Monitors identified infringements by companies including purposely misreporting timber species on transport documents, ‘lending’ SVLK certificates to uncertified businesses, and the falsification of documents such as transport documents, shelter and export documents.

    "We must review regulations to allow for more thorough prosecution of illegal forestry activities and increase joint supervision between civil society and law enforcement official in the field to limit environmental impacts and conflict with local communities”, stated Mr. Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative of Indonesia

    Recommendations in the report include improving compliance with regulations by enforcing stricter penalties. Perpetrators of illegal timber crimes have been prosecuted in Surabaya and Makassar, but the penalties were found to be relatively light.

    “A closer collaboration between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and civil society organizations is needed to prevent fraudulent licensing practices,” said Mustam Arif, Executive Director of Jurnal Celebes.

    Integrated monitoring activities with comprehensive reporting and clear recommendations such as those carried out by Jurnal Celebes are crucial to improving the Indonesian Timber Legality Verification System thereby substantiating the credibility of Indonesia’s FLEGT license.