SVLK FLAWED: An independent evaluation of Indonesia’s timber legality certification system (2014)

AURIGA -  Indonesia is one of the major exporters of timber products in the world. It is also one of the key countries with serious illegal logging and deforestation issues. Improvement of forest governance and law enforcement and halting of further deforestation and forest degradation is crucial to ensure legality and sustainability of the industry.

Indonesia and the European Union signed a Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to ensure that Indonesian timber products are produced, harvested and shipped in compliance with the laws and regulations of Indonesia. Indonesia developed a Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK) to: (1) define the country’s laws and regulations that apply to the forestry sector, and (2) establish a system that verifies the legality of the country’s timber exports to the EU against these laws. Once SVLK has been proven to provide a credible guarantee of legality, its certified “V-Legal” products can obtain a FLEGT license and automatic access to the EU market.

The ultimate goal of the study was to provide guidance to the governments of Indonesia and the EU that would make SVLK certificates as robust and credible as possible and ensure that no illegal timber products are exported from Indonesia based on this certificate. Beginning in August 2013, the authors assessed the development of the SVLK standard since its inception and evaluated all certificates issued until the end of that month with one fundamental question in mind: Does Indonesia’s SVLK certificate provide the EU with a guarantee of product legality? In trying to answer this question, the authors looked at 183 forestry companies that have attained SVLK certificate in all of Indonesia, and conducted GIS analysis to closely evaluate operations and impacts of those in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, North Kalimantan and East Kalimantan.