The Jakarta Post
The ratification of an international agreement to curb illegal timber trade early this year has contributed to an increase in exports of Indonesia's forestry products.
According to data issued by the Forestry Ministry, exports of forest products rose 11.8 percent in the first half of this year to US$3.8 billion from $3.4 billion in the same period last year.
Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the ratification of the agreement by the European Union (EU) in March helped spur exports of Indonesia's forestry products to the EU countries in recent months.
Indonesia's exports of wooden furniture increased thanks partly the ratification of the agreement, the minister said during a meeting with 50 timber businesspeople and carpenters' association in Jepara regency, Central Java last week.
Zulkifli said similar data also showed that export of wooden furniture made in the regency had more than doubled to $11.4 million in the first six months of the year from $5.4 million in the same period last year.
Early in March the European parliament ratified the EU-Indonesia Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) voluntary partnership agreement signed in September last year.
The agreement acknowledged that whole timber and timber products certified under the domestic timber legality verification system (SVLK) were legally harvested and complied with the EU's timber regulation, which became effective March last year
'Indonesia has been successful in its commitment to promote legal forestry products through the domestic timber legality verification system, which drives the country's timber exports. I hope that officials and business people in the forestry sector maintain the progress and protect our credibility,' he said.
Zulkifli said the SVLK, implemented by the ministry as a policy to curb illegal logging, certified whole timber and timber products that they were legally harvested and complied with the EU's timber regulation.
The regulation prevents EU member countries from importing Indonesia's timber products that have been illegally logged.
Zulkifli said Indonesia, one of the world's biggest timber producers, was the first country to have such an agreement ratified by the European Parliament.
With the acknowledgement, Indonesian timber will get a license that exempts Indonesian forest products from mandatory audit, which takes more time and money.
The certification will in the end cut verification time significantly, allowing the quick release of Indonesian timber arriving at European import gateways.
Previously, Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said that Indonesia expected an increase in timber and timber product shipments to the EU by 5 to 7 percent during the initial phase of the FLEGT.
Zulkifli said further that the government, alongside donors, had donated a total of Rp 58.2 billion ($4.98 million) this year, up 24.09 percent from Rp 46.9 billion in the previous year, to raise public awareness on the SVLK implementation. From the 2014 figure, the government and donors ' namely, the Multistakeholder Forestry Programme (MFP), the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Indonesian Ecolabeling Institute (LEI) and the Kemitraan ' donated Rp 6.2 billion and Rp 52 billion respectively.
Zulkifli said all stakeholders in the country should maintain the quality and sustainability of forests, which had a huge role in developing Indonesia's economy.
According to the ministry's statistics, Indonesia has 127.38 million hectares of forest and water, which covers 70 percent of the country's total land area. (gda)
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