Indonesia’s first V-legal trial timber heads for EU

November 2012

The initial test shipments of timber from Indonesia backed by its V-legal proof of legality licensing system are now en route for destinations around Europe, opening the way for its first exports to be licensed under the EU FLEGT VPA scheme in 2013.

The SVLK system now covers 300m ha of Indonesian forest

The V-Legal documents, which will become compulsory for all timber exports in January, are issued by the independently accredited Indonesian Timber Legality Verification Bodies and form part of its Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK) legality verification system. The latter now covers 7 million ha of productive forest, 326 timber factories and has 300 independent auditors trained to assess forests and companies against its legality definition.

The whole new timber legality framework replaces Indonesia’s previous BRIK system and has been developed in response to increasingly rigorous anti-illegal timber legislation in key markets, including the upcoming EU Timber Regulation and Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, the US Lacey Act, and Japan’s Goho Wood system.

The test V-Legal licensed shipments comprise wood from 17 registered Indonesian exporters and will continue into November out of four major ports; Belawan Medan, Tanjung Priok Jakarta, Tanjung Emas Semarang and Tanjung Perak Surabaya.  They are headed to 32 importers in nine EU countries, five of whom have so far confirmed involvement in the trial; the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Cyprus and Denmark (the others being France, Belgium, Italy and Greece).

Deputy minister of trade RI Bayu Krisnamurthi sends off the first trial V-legal shipment

One of the first loads of V-Legal timber was sent on its way to port from a mill in Kendal, Central Java by Indonesian deputy minister of trade RI Bayu Krisnamurthi, accompanied by EU ambassador to Indonesia Julian Wilson.

“We expect the trial to identify if there are still any weaknesses in the
system and address them, so that exports of timber products can go smoothly once the V-Legal documents come into force in January,”  said the minister. “And it also shows Indonesia’s readiness to supply certified legal timber product to world timber markets.”

Indonesia is also now set to to sign the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) with the EU early in 2013,  using the SVLK scheme as its proof of legality.   This will leave the country well placed for the introduction of the anti-illegal wood EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) on March 3.  FLEGT licenced timber is given a ‘green lane’ through the regulation, and companies which first place it on the EU market will not have to undertake the due diligence illegality risk assessment of suppliers necessary for all other timber, except CITES licenced material. 

Forestry Advisor Andy Roby (right) and DFID Climate Change Department head Matthew Wyatt inspect bar-coded Indonesian logs

Andy Roby, a forestry advisor in the country funded by the UK’s Department for Foreign Development (DFID), said that Indonesia’s latest moves on legality assurance were a major breakthrough.
“When the VPA with Europe is signed and fully implemented, all this work will result in recognition from a significant and discriminating market that Indonesia, with its SVLK system, is really winning the war against illegal timber,” he said. “The SVLK is also expected to enhance the competitive advantage of its timber products in the wider international market and form part of the country’s contribution to global
environmental protection.”

European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) Secretary André de Boer  said he was “personally delighted” with V-legal trial, which represented “significant progress for Indonesia”.

“As ETTF is currently assessing all certification and legality verification schemes against the EUTR requirements, we hope SVLK will be successful and offer assurance to European buyers until such time the country’s VPA is fully signed off,” he said.