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Japan must seek only legal timber to rebuild

Tsunami aid plea an opportunity to use Indonesia’s new regulations


JAPAN’S call for help in its reconstruction is a timely opportunity for Indonesia to put its new timber regulations to work, ensuring only legal timber and products are exported.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its Indonesian partner Telapak understand the Japanese Government has asked for help from Indonesia, seeking two million sheets of plywood to help rebuild in tsunami-hit areas.

In September 2010, Indonesia began to implement a timber legality assurance system, Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK); it is currently building capacity across industry and has already started a programme of audits. Many companies are seeking SVLK-compliance, which will in turn help combat the lack of transparency and illegal acts within the timber sector.

On May 4, 2011, Indonesia and the European Union signed a bilateral Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), setting out the definition of legality and ensuring products from Indonesia which have been harvested, transported and exported are done so under Indonesian laws and regulations.

EIA and Telapak urge the Japanese Government to seek only SVLK-certified timber products from Indonesia and to avoid importing illegally sourced plywood from other suppliers who have not addressed legality in their imports/exports.

“In 2004, the Western coast of Aceh in Indonesia was hit by a tsunami that resulted in the deaths of 230,000 people. During reconstruction, contractors sought to procure legally sourced timber,” said Mardi Minangsari from Telapak.

“We believe this is another opportunity to turn a tragic event into something positive by supporting legally sourced products that Japan can use to rebuild its devastated communities.”

As part of the early rehabilitation Programme for Asian Tsunami Affected Countries, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation released an information note for the procurement of timber for Tsunami Reconstruction in Indonesia. It clearly states that all timber purchasers should ensure they procure timber complying with Indonesian law.

“This is a golden opportunity for Japan to create a system of legality to compliment the Indonesian SVLK,” said Faith Doherty, EIA Forests Campaign Team Leader.

“It took great commitment from the Indonesian Government and the many donors supporting the re-building of Aceh to try to procure legal and sustainable timber. We hope Japan will also try to do the same.”

The Japan-based International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) has previously financed pilot projects in Indonesia to develop and implement guidelines to stop illegal logging in that country. Further, ITTO agreed it should “support projects to assist producer countries in combating illegal logging”.

“Indonesia now has a system, of which the central point is the SVLK. ITTO is an organisation that has attempted to support Indonesia in its fight against illegal logging and can continue to do so by ensuring the industry procures only legal timber and wood products,” concluded Doherty

Interviews are available on request: please contact Faith Doherty, at [email protected] or telephone 020 7354 7960.



1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.


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