Photo: Aulia Erlangga – CIFOR, Flickr/cc.
FLEGT licensing started on 15 November 2016. Progress is not as smooth as it may appear, however. The Indonesian Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) provided evidence of timber being logged in protected areas in September 2018 and further evidence of illegality, environmental destruction and community rights violations were presented in Rainforest Action Network’s in-depth investigation a month later.
Indonesia is one of the world’s largest exporters of tropical timber, forests cover around 60 per cent of its land area. It exports plywood, pulp and paper, furniture and handicrafts. The main export destinations are China, the EU, Japan and Korea.
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At the last VPA Joint Expert Meeting (JEM), November 2018, the Indonesian Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) inquired about progress in relation to the action plan for 2018 adopted earlier this year. The action plan was supposed to address a number of issues highlighted in JPIK’s February report, “SVLK: A Process toward Accountable Governance,” (VPA Update June 2018), and it recognised the need for independent monitoring organisations to be formally established and to ensure that they receive sufficient funding.
Concerning transparency, the JEM agreed that detailed information about the timber supply chain should be accessible; nonetheless, in practice access to information for independent forest monitors (IFM) is problematic. Log tracking information, as well as export and import data are difficult and time-consuming to obtain. In June 2018, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) adopted a new regulation on public information disclosure; however, obstacles still exist and IFM organisations face problems getting public disclosure of information coming from provincial authorities.
In addition, in September 2018, JPIK provided evidence of timber being logged in protected areas such as the Sebangau National Park, in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan. Instead of the peat being protected and conserved to maintain the region’s hydrological cycle and to act as a carbon sink, JPIK’s monitoring shows systematic and extensive encroachment of agriculture on protected areas as well as illegal logging: forests had been cleared and burned to make way for oil palm plantations. JPIK also found that timber harvested illegally in the national park was allegedly being used to supply local timber industries. Despite a report submitted to the Government (Director General for Law Enforcement and MoEF) by JPIK and several news articles about this case, the DG Law Enforcement has still not taken action, leading to serious concerns about the fate of the national park.
In October 2018, the Rainforest Action Network published an in-depth investigation into the Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo Group. The report provides evidence of illegality, environmental destruction and community rights violations. Korindo claims to be in possession of timber ‘legality certificates’ under the Indonesian Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK). In addition to submitting a complaint to DG Law Enforcement and MoEF, JPIK shared their findings in the November JEM meeting, as well as with the JIC secretariat.
These cases must be tackled properly or they risk undermining the credibility of the entire FLEGT process.
Last updated in December 2018.
A brief history of VPA negotiations so far, from a civil society perspective
Indonesia’s civil society independent monitoring network, Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan (JPIK), has been part of negotiations and has continued to raise alarms if discussions seemed to be going in the wrong direction. As Indonesia moves towards being the first country to export FLEGT licensed timber, the role of civil society, and JPIK in particular, is crucial. For licenced timber is to be credible, the independent civil society forest monitors must endorse the process.
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