EU-Indonesia deal to curb illegal logging

Indonesia and the EU have hailed what they say is “a major milestone” in the global fight to end illegal logging, with the launch on 15 November of Indonesia’s FLEGT licensing scheme for exports to the EU of verified legal timber products.

The FLEGT licensing scheme is said to be the first of its kind in the world, and is the result of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Indonesia and the EU. The VPA parties expect FLEGT licensing to increase trade in legal, licensed timber while closing the EU market to unlicensed products.

From 15 November 2016, all timber product types listed in the VPA and directly exported to the EU must be accompanied by a FLEGT licence. Competent Authorities in EU Member States will deny entry to any such products exported from Indonesia to the EU without a valid FLEGT licence.

The FLEGT licence automatically meets 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. Importers of FLEGT-licensed timber products can place their imports on the EU market without the need to conduct further due diligence.

Indonesia’s FLEGT-licensing scheme is based on a mandatory timber legality assurance system called the SVLK that was developed by representatives of Indonesian forestry stakeholders. The SVLK assures that all timber products harvested or imported, transported, traded, processed and exported comply with national laws on environmental, social and economic aspects as identified by stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society.

“By addressing legality and meeting the EU’s high standards, we can not only trade responsibly but also ensure our forests support sustainable development, improve livelihoods and help address climate change,” said Putera Parthama, Director General of Sustainable Management of Production Forest at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry. “Today, all of Indonesia’s timber exports are from independently audited factories and forests. Our timber legality assurance system and FLEGT licensing scheme will continue to improve thanks to in-built mechanisms for addressing concerns as they arise.”