EU-Indonesia timber agreement signals welcome step towards zero deforestation

Press release - February 27, 2014
Brussels/Strasbourg –The European Parliament today ratified an agreement between the EU and Indonesia to help stem illegal timber trade, but warned in an accompanying resolution that more action will be needed to secure the agreement’s successful implementation.

The aim of the EU-Indonesia Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) agreement is to eradicate illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber, while helping achieve the sustainable management of forests.

Deforestation continues to be a rampant problem in Indonesia. The mass destruction of Indonesia's rainforests is largely driven by forest conversion for palm oil plantations and pulpwood concessions. Indonesian Ministry of Forestry data show that Indonesia is losing some 620,000ha of rainforest every year (an area greater than the size of Brunei), driven by logging and forest conversion from companies such as Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL).

Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Yuyun Indradi said: “This agreement is an important stepping stone towards improved forest governance in Indonesia, but the ultimate test will be whether it is actually implemented on the ground to help halt deforestation of Indonesian forests. The eradication of illegal logging and illegal land clearance for timber, palm oil and pulp and paper is urgent and must go hand-in-hand with further policy reforms. The loose application of existing rules must be resisted, to ensure that notorious companies like APRIL do not receive a get-out-of-jail-free card to continue pulping rainforests.”

At the core of the agreement is the development of a timber legality verification system, commonly known as the SVLK (Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu in the Bahasa language), to distinguish legal timber products from those of unlawful origin. Once the agreement is considered fully operational, Indonesian timber products verified under the SVLK will be granted a FLEGT export license. This license will exempt Indonesian timber products from the EU Timber Regulation, which bans illegal timber from the EU market. Operators in Europe will be able to rely on the FLEGT license rather than perform legal checks of their own.

The European Parliament requested that certain shortcomings of the SVLK are eliminated before any FLEGT licence is issued. In particular it insisted that the system should cover all sources of timber and be based on a fully audited chain of custody. The parliament also emphasised the importance of minimising forest conversion and eradicating corruption.

Greenpeace expects the Indonesian government to continue delivering on its ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land use change. The eradication of deforestation can only be achieved through consistent government policies matched with ‘No Deforestation’ policies from corporate actors, such as those already agreed to by pulp and paper company APP, and palm oil companies Golden Agri Resources and Wilmar.

Contacts:

Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner: +62 81226161759 (mobile),

Tristan Tremschnig - Greenpeace International Communications Coordinator, Indonesia Forests: +31 6 43 78 7393 (mobile),

 

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.

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