Indonesia President urged to stay the course with EU ‘legal timber’ system
LONDON: As President of Indonesia Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo meets with UK Prime Minister David Cameron today on a business-focused tour of Europe, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) urged him to maintain commitment to a process seeking to ensure only legal timber and products leave his country.
In 1999, EIA led the way in exposing the chaos, crime and violence which characterised massive illegal logging in the precious rainforests of Indonesia. At that time, it was estimated as much as 80 per cent of its timber entering trade was illegal.
The European Union (EU) eventually responded to the crisis in 2003 by created the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, a series of measures seeking to prohibit illegal timber from entering EU markets while also addressing the root causes of illegal logging – rampant corruption, poor governance, lack of transparency and accountability from those managing forests.
Key to the FLEGT plan are Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs), bilateral trade deals negotiated between a timber producer country and the EU to ensure only legal timber finds its way to the marketplace.
Faith Doherty, EIA Forest Campaign Team Leader, said: “More than a decade of hard work and negotiations is coming to fruition and we’re likely just months away from seeing the first FLEGT-approved timber imports from Indonesia.
“Although there remains a lot of work to do, the FLEGT process gives us grounds for cautious optimism that forest crime can be addressed effectively. The multi-stakeholder process in reforming this sector and creating this trade agreement, including the formal recognition of civil society independent monitoring, lends some credibility to the Indonesian-EU VPA.
“Over the coming months, Indonesia still has some work to do on issues of transparency which we urge the Indonesian Government to address with the same extraordinary commitment it has shown in combating illegal logging and the associated illegal trade from Indonesia.”
EIA further urged the Indonesian Government to ensure full implementation of the Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) to cover all timber sources, particularly conversion timber, which accounts for a significant proportion of the whole of Indonesia’s timber production.
Doherty added: “The President’s statement last week confirming that there will be a moratorium on oil palm and mining permits, together with an audit of current permits, is a positive step in the right direction and if implemented properly will also stem the conversion of natural forests to oil palm plantations and tackle illegality within the sector.”
- Interviews are available on request; please contact Faith Doherty via firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 20 7354 7960.
- The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.
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