INDONESIA WITHDRAWS SVLK BAN UNDER PRESSURE FROM INTERNATIONAL TIMBER TRADE

‘ABOLISHING SCHEME WOULD HAVE MADE CHALLENGED AUSTRALIAN IMPORTERS’

Back on stream… Indonesia has retained SVFLK verification system.

A SWIFT response from the Australian Timber Importers Federation and international traders has helped reverse
a decision by the Indonesian government to end the
country’s SVFLK verification system, which was to take
effect on May 27.

The Indonesia trade ministry announced in March it would scrap a requirement for wood exporters to obtain licenses verifying their wood comes from legal and sustainably managed sources.

The SVLK verification system took a decade to develop and implement and has been accepted by some of the most stringent market regulators for timber legality, including
the EU.

The Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya has confirmed that, after a series of meetings with relevant ministries following the suspension of the SVLK regulation, the Ministry of Trade will withdraw the suspension until there is an agreement on revisions of the SVLK.

In a written statement, Siti said the SVLK (Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu/Timber Legality Assurance System) continued to be applied. At the same time, she announced increased financial support for export-oriented small and medium timber businesses.

It was further announced that the process of revising the Ministry of Trade regulation would involve the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Importantly, Minister Siti said Indonesia still wanted to maintain SVLK as a major investment for the long-term interests of sustainable businesses, as well as for the benefit of Indonesia’s forests

ATIF has congratulated the Indonesia government on the decision “in the face of some opposing pressure from vested interest industry groups”.

General manager John Halkett said ATIF had joined with international trade associations and other interests to make representations to the Indonesian government. This had included a letter from ATIF chairman Nils Koren to the Indonesian ambassador in Australia Kristiarto Legowo.

Mr Koren said the Australian timber industry strongly opposed the removal, or any relaxation, of the SVLK legality assurance scheme.

“Abolishing SVLK certification would have made it very challenging for Australian timber importers to continue to have confidence in Indonesian timber exporters,” he said.

“ATIF holds the view that the SVLK scheme has worked well to date and greatly assists timber importers to complete their mandatory due diligence requirements under illegal logging legislation.

“Any moves to reduce the confidence Australian timber importers have in the legally-sourcing credentials of Indonesian timber would be a very serious backward step.”

Following a series of meetings with relevant ministries, lobbying from international trade bodies and other relevant stakeholders, SVLK conditions will continue as a mandatory requirement for exporting forestry industry products.

ATIF maintains an ongoing dialogue with Indonesian timber industry associations and will be visiting Jakarta again for follow-up and ongoing discussions with timber trade groups when travel between the two countries is again possible.

Today, 100% of timber from both natural forest concessions and plantation forest concessions are SVLK certified, although a small amount of timber from illegally logged areas still enters the supply chain.