Entrepreneurs and activists asserted on Tuesday the importance of the timber legality verification system (SVLK) to improve forest management, while at the same time encouraging the production of sustainable forestry products to be able to compete in the global market.
Indonesian Pulp and Paper Association (APKI) executive director Liana Bratasida said sustainability had to be embodied in the business core of timber-based industries, particularly those that aimed to expand their business globally.
'Environmentally friendly products supported by certification and sustainability are the heart of timber-based products exports now,' said Liana during a discussion on sustainable forestry products held by The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
The SVLK, established in an attempt to tackle illegal logging and illegal timber for production, aims to certify Indonesian timber-based industry players who want to enter the global market, which is selective in choosing products made only with legal timber from sustainably managed forests.
According to Liana, Indonesia was placed as the first paper exporter in ASEAN and the sixth in the world with US$5.6 million in exports per year. With the competitive advantages Indonesia has in forestry, Liana advised the government to require all timber-based industry players to obtain SVLK certification.
Data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry showed that furniture exports this year reached a total value of US$10.37 billion as of Tuesday, higher than the US$6 billion booked in the full year 2014.
The director of furniture exporting company Surya Alam Semesta, Sas Bourjot, said a lot of European consumers were reluctant to buy uncertified Indonesian furniture. In their view, Indonesia wooden products were made with illegal timber.
'The SVLK is therefore a very important weapon because it gives us bargaining power in the global market,' Sas said, adding that international buyers all demanded SVLK certification in every pre-order of her products.
The head of the Indonesian Renewable Energy Society's legal, policy advocacy and regulation division, Paul Butarbutar, concurred, saying the SVLK could also help Indonesia reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, Paul said most companies that promoted sustainability had committed to buying only from deforestation-free supply chains and refused to buy uncertified products.
'The government should push timber-based industry players to get SVLK certification because only then will the global market be open to them,' said Paul.
However, he noted that the certification cost was a burden for many small and medium enterprises. Thus, he urged the government to provide incentives and make the cost lower.
'The Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister could provide microloans for producers to finance certification. While the Environment and Forestry Ministry could open the door to obtaining SVLK certification,' said Paul.
The Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) negotiations between Indonesia and the EU have reached the final stage. When sealed, the deal will allow Indonesia to export its timber without following a time-consuming legal process, it carries an FLEGT license. FLEGT-licensed timber is considered by the EU to have been harvested legally. (dan)