Business

EU wants assessment team
on timber issues

The European Union (EU) is considering proposing the establishment of an independent team that will assess the certification of timber legality in Indonesia, known locally as SVLK.

The team would likely consist of representatives from both the EU and Indonesia and would ensure that SVLK certification followed the standard recognized by Indonesia and EU member countries.

“We are going to meet with the Forestry Ministry tomorrow [Friday] to discuss the assessment team that will ensure SVLK is consistent and functions effectively,” European Commission’s International Forest Policy representative John Bazill said in Jakarta on Thursday.

According to Bazill, the independent team would perform an annual audit into the SVLK to improve
the system.

“We think that the auditors can comprise two people from Indonesia and another two from the EU,” he said.

SVLK was introduced by the Indonesian government in 2010 to curb rampant illegal logging in the country.

The certification has been mandatory since then and has been applied to industrial forest concessions (HTI), production forest concessions (HPH) and community plantation forests (HTR) in the country.

The certification gives Indonesian producers greater access to the global market as it guarantees the buyers that the timber and its by-products are legal and are sourced in an environmentally friendly manner.

Beginning in March, the new EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) will be effective and will prohibit the placing of illegally harvested timber on the EU market. All importers must ensure the legality of the timber and its products.

EU ambassador to Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN Julian Wilson said that SVLK already offered excellent legality assurances for buyers in the EU.

“SVLK is a progressive scheme of the government of Indonesia and forestry stakeholders. It is widely recognized and the EU views SVLK as providing an excellent assurance for operators concerning the legality of their products, in order to be compliant with the EUTR,” Wilson said.

He noted that many of Indonesia’s competitors did not have an equivalent system, which would see SVLK support Indonesia in the EU market, provided that SVLK implementation was viewed as credible.

He believed that Indonesia could better promote and expand its timber exports to Europe with the system.

“But if the SVLK starts to go wrong or slips back, people won’t care and importers will buy [timber] products elsewhere. This is about sending the right message. If the SVLK makes things better, it could increase your trade,” he went on.

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