Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Environment and Forestry (KLHK) Ministry shared its experience on developing the Legality and Sustainability Verification System (SVLK) with a delegation from Laos in Jakarta on Monday.

"SVLK, the Indonesian timber legality assurance system, has been key in encouraging better governance in the forestry sector, taking requirements developed by market countries into account," director general of sustainable forest management at the ministry, Agus Justianto, told the delegates from Laos.

Justianto said that SVLK has changed the image of Indonesia's forestry sector and boosted the sector's performance.

According to him, SVLK has helped Indonesia control illegal logging, which was a threat to the forestry sector in the early 2000s. The result has been a reduction in deforestation by more than 75 percent in the past three years.

SVLK has also provided guarantees to the market and increased confidence that the wood products purchased are legal and sourced from sustainably managed forests, he said.

This had an impact on the rapid performance of forestry product exports even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, the export value of Indonesian forestry products reached US$14.21 billion, the highest on record. This year, the export value of forestry products reached US$9.61 billion as of September.

SVLK was developed more than a decade ago involving multi-stakeholders ranging from the government, academics, business actors, civil society, and non-governmental organizations.

Its utilization is mandatory from upstream to downstream. To support its implementation, there are Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), which conduct audits of business units or wood products.

CABs have been carrying out this task after receiving accreditation from the National Accreditation Committee (KAN), based on the ISO17065 international standard, in 2012.

The entire process is monitored by the community and non-governmental organizations, who serve as independent monitors.

According to Justianto, SVLK played an important role in negotiating the Voluntary Partnership Agreement for Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT-VPA) with the European Union.

The system was recognized as the basis for the issuance of FLEGT licenses to the European Union so that Indonesian wood products would not require to undergo a due diligence process prescribed under the European timber regulation.

"SVLK has now included sustainability aspects in addition to legal aspects. This is a standard that is needed by the global market today," said Justianto.

The latest SVLK developments include improving traceability with geo-location. Other indicators that have also been strengthened in the SVLK transformation are worker welfare and gender issues.

Director general of the Forest Inspection Department of the Laotian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Khamphone Mounlamai, said that Laos has also developed a timber legality assurance system and hopes to reach a FLEGT-VPA agreement in the near future.

"We want to learn and exchange knowledge from Indonesia about the process," he added.

The Laotian delegation comprised officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Trade, provincial government, civil society organizations (CSOs), and business actors.

The delegation's visit to Indonesia was supported by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the German Development Bank (KfW), and the European Forest Institute (EFI).

During the visit, which will end on October 27, 2023, the delegation will hold meetings with the members of several business associations, such as the Association of Indonesian Forest Concessionaires (APHI), the Indonesian Wood Panel Association (Apkindo), and the Pulp and Paper Association Indonesia (APKI).

They will also meet with CABs and independent monitoring network NGOs that have been monitoring SVLK. In addition, they will visit Surabaya and Malang in East Java to see the SVLK implementation process from upstream to downstream.

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Reporter: Asri Mayang Sari
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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