Local forest concession-holders on Monday signed up for a program to help them gain certification for responsible logging practices, which would enable them to sell to countries applying tough import restrictions.
“We see potential for expanding certified forest management in Indonesia,” The Borneo Initiative (TBI) Foundation executive Jesse Kuijper said during the signing ceremony. TBI is a Netherlands-based organization that currently provides assistance to eight forest concession-holders in Inodnesia.
The companies signing the agreement in Jakarta included PT Dwima Jaya Utama, which manages 127,300 hectares of forest in Kalimantan, and PT Wapoga Mutiara Timber Unit II, which manages 196,900 hectares in Papua.
The eight companies manage a combined total of 815,670 hectares in Kalimantan, Maluku and Papua. Another five companies, which manage a total of almost 600,000 hectares, signed a similar agreement in January.
The concession holders are seeking to obtain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification — one of the labels recognized in the international trade of wood products to indicate products made using sustainable practices.
Kuijper said TBI aimed to increase the area of Indonesian forest managed by FSC-certified concession holders to 4 million hectares, by the year 2015, “but we think we can do even more,” he said.
At present there are five FSC-certified companies in Indonesia managing a combined total of 1 million hectares of forest.
Certification was previously regarded as arduous and complicated, but with TBI’s help the length of the process could be reduced to one or two years, Kuijper said.
One of the ways TBI assists concession holders is through the provision of grants, he said. These grants are worth ¤2 for each hectare of forest managed, Kuijper said.
TBI office director Rizal Bukhari said the foundation’s funds were not provided in cash, but channeled to pay for items concession holders needed, for example for consultation and assessments often required when applying for certification.
The certification process involves three phases; a pre-assessment stage, main assessments and other procedures. Rizal said several of the companies that had received grants from TBI were already in the second or third phases.
“We are known for being a high-speed foundation, the selection process is quite strict… we accept those who are ready [to go through the necessary procedures],” Bukhari said.
He added that there were no sanctions on concession holders that were granted the fund but unable to gain certification.
Nanang Roffandi Ahmad, the chairman of the Association of Indonesian Forest Concessionaires, said of the 36 million hectares of managed forest in Indonesia, only 30 percent, or around 12 million hectares, had been allocated certificates voluntarily, which were mostly internationally recognized ones.
Listya Kusumawardhani, the director of forest production development at the Forestry Ministry, said the ministry targeted to increase the area of certified forest concessions by half.
“So in these five years, [we are planning to] obtain certification for 50 concession areas. This is very low,” she said.
Listya said TBI should be “less picky”, because most of the companies it had allocated grants to were larger ones.