FLEGT-licensed timber is now a reality

Indonesia is the first country able to issue FLEGT Licences. After a long process beginning in 2007, the first consignment of Indonesia FLEGT-licensed timber arrived in Europe today. This is a major milestone in the EU FLEGT Action Plan and a great achievement for the Indonesian timber industry and European timber importers.

The European Union FLEGT Action Plan and the FLEGT Licenses

FLEGT stands for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade. The European Union FLEGT Action Plan was launched in 2003 aiming to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber.

Signature of a FLEGT VPA between the EU and Indonesia with, from left to right: Zulkifli Hasan, Indonesian Minister for Forestry, Valentinas Mazuronis, Lithuanian Minister for Environment and Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of the Environment

Signature of a FLEGT VPA between the EU and Indonesia with, from left to right: Zulkifli Hasan, Indonesian Minister for Forestry, Valentinas Mazuronis, Lithuanian Minister for Environment and Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of the Environment

FLEGT licences are documents issued by timber-producing countries that have ratified a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU). The licences confirm that timber (or timber products) comply fully with the relevant laws of the country of export. FLEGT-licensed timber are considered to comply with the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits EU importers from placing illegally harvested timber on the EU market. EU importers therefore do not need to undertake further due diligence on FLEGT-licensed timber. Once a country begins issuing FLEGT licences, EU member states will not allow such products to enter the EU unless they have a valid FLEGT licence.

Fifteen tropical countries are implementing or negotiating VPAs. Ghana is at an advanced stage of VPA implementation and Indonesia is the first to reach the milestone of issuing the FLEGT license.

Indonesia FLEGT Licence and the V-Legal Document

The Indonesian FLEGT Licence are Indonesian export licences attesting legality of the timber. Indonesian exporting companies must attach a FLEGT License to their consignments to the European Union market. In case the export is to a non-EU market, the export licence is called V-Legal Document. The FLEGT License and the V-Legal Document are essentially the same document. Both are issued in the context of the Indonesian timber legality assurance system (called Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu – SVLK).

The Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK) was created in the context of the VPA signed between Indonesia and the EU to ensure that timber products and raw materials meet the Indonesian legal aspects. Timber is considered to be legal when its origin, logging permit, logging systems and procedures, transport, processing, and trade can be proven to meet all applicable legal requirements.

According with the Indonesian official information, the FLEGT License (as well as the V-Legal Document) provides evidence that the timber products exported meet the Indonesian legality standard and were sourced from a supply chain with adequate controls against the inflow of timber from unknown sources.

BVRio Responsible Timber Exchange, a trading platform designed to promote and facilitate the purchase of responsible timber, is been adapted to incorporate the FLEGT License and V-Legal Document in its due diligence and risk management tools.

For additional information access the Indonesian official website of the Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK) (http://silk.dephut.go.id), and the information portals about the EU FLEGT (www.euflegt.efi.int and www.flegtlicence.org), or contact the EU FLEGT Facility (info@euflegt.efi.int). Or contact BVRio Responsible Timber Exchange (www.bvrio.org/timber; timber@bvrio.org)

By Mauricio de Moura Costa, BVRio’s director