Timber licensing deal struck

22nd April 2016


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  • Mitigation ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Management

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IEMA

Businesses will soon be able to automatically comply with the EU's timber regulation when importing from Indonesia after a deal was agreed between the country and the European Commission.

The deal comes under the EU’s 2003 forest law enforcement, governance and trade (FLEGT) action plan, which aims to stem illegal logging by tackling both supply and demand.

On the supply side, the action plan involves the EU aiding timber exporting countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, to improve forest governance and law enforcement. Six countries including Indonesia are implementing legally-binding trade agreements known as voluntary partnership agreements (VPAs) with the EU under FLEGT. Another nine countries are negotiating VPAs with the EU.

Meanwhile, the EU placed responsibility on business for checking that imported timber and wood products were legally sourced.

An assessment of Indonesia’s progress found it was ready to move to establishing a full licencing system. In a statement, the commission said Indonesia’s VPA had strengthened forest governance by increasing transparency, accountability and stakeholder participation in decisions about forests. It had also boosted legal trade, modernised and formalised Indonesia’s forest sector, and improved business practices, the commission claimed.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk yesterday agreed to move swiftly establishing a licencing system, which would make Indonesia the first country to do so.

In 2002, just 20% of Indonesia’s timber was considered to come from legal sources, but now more than 90% of its timber exports are from independently audited factories and forests, the commission said. More than 20 million hectares of forests and more than 1,700 forest industries in Indonesia are now audited, according to the commission.

Indonesia supplies 33% of the EU’s tropical timber imports and 11% of timber products and paper by value, according to the commission.

Aida Greenbury, managing director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement at Asia Pulp and Paper, said that the partnership between the EU and Indonesia could redefine how countries collaborate on sustainability and forest protection.

‘For the first time, timber consumers, suppliers, civil society and governments across the world have come together to forge a trade deal that will conserve forests that are crucial to avoiding catastrophic climate change,’ she said.

Beatrix Richards, head of corporate stewardship and sustainable commodities at WWF, said: ‘By placing civil society at the heart of the solution, this agreement is hopefully the first of many between forest nations and the international community.’

Forests are on the front line of climate change, sustainable development and biodiversity management so the timber trade must be effectively regulated and illegal logging stamped out, Richards added.

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