FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

New report highlights the importance of Indonesian Independent Forest Monitoring’s contribution to the SVLK


The Indonesian Independent Forest Monitoring Network Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan (JPIK) has published a report entitled “Assessing Compliance of Timber Forest Product Utilization and Trade Permit Holders”. The report captures the results of Independent Forest Monitoring activities carried out in eight Provinces in Indonesia, supported by the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme.

Independent Forest Monitors assess compliance of local operators with the country’s timber legality standards, as established within the Indonesia’s Timber Legality Assurance System, or Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK). The SVLK is the backbone of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between Indonesia and the European Union and IFM is an integral part of the SVLK mechanism.  

Expanding the reach of Independent Forest Monitoring

Through the project, JPIK worked to expand the network of Independent Forest Monitors in each Province, by involving local and indigenous communities. Based on in-depth knowledge of the forest, community members were instrumental in selecting critical areas and segments of the timber supply chain to be monitored. These areas included national parks, a UNESCO biosphere reserve and an area designated as a wildlife sanctuary.  JPIK selected Independent Forest Monitors in close consultation with local communities in each Province, and provided targeted trainings on how to conduct investigations, write reports and follow-up on the reports submitted.

The report published documents a number of violations such as the illegal processing of certain timber species and timber extraction outside concessions boundaries, including from the Rimbang Baling wildlife sanctuary in the Riau Province. Other illegalities reported included not paying taxes on timber extraction, fraudulent practices in the issuance of timber product utilization permits and non-compliance with occupational health and safety regulations.

“Forests are a source of livelihoods for forest dependent communities and involving these local or indigenous communities in monitoring activities not only capitalizes on their knowledge and presence on the ground but also protects their long-term socio-economic interests”. said Bruno Cammaert, FAO’s Forestry Officer.  

Collaboration with the Authorities critical to improving forest governance

“Since the Presidential Instruction on Combatting Illegal Logging was issued in 2005, the Government of Indonesia has worked closely with us to eradicate illegal practices through joint operations” – said Muhamad Kosar, JPIK’s National Coordinator  “In Riau Province, the Governor himself led a joint team operation with the Riau Province Police Chief. This collaboration shows the commitment of the Government of Indonesia to eradicating illegal logging and gives us hope for the future”.

Independent Forest Monitors document, analyze and compile suspected illegalities into reports which are submitted to the relevant authorities for follow up action. Depending on the type of illegalities, authorities involved in carrying out corrective actions include Provincial Law Enforcement agencies, Certification Bodies but also the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s (MoEF) Directorate General of Law Enforcement.

Whilst at the time of writing several police investigations are still ongoing, a number of corrective actions have already been taken. Ranging from the arrest of illegal loggers to the revocation of irregular companies’ legality certificates, these actions are testament to the effectiveness of Independent Forest Monitoring and the commitment of law enforcement agencies such as The Ministry of Environment and Forestry and certification bodies to improving forest governance.

“The reported illegalities and the corrective actions taken by the Government in response, go to show that Independent Forest Monitoring is working as intended and is contributing to the SVLK and the sustainable management of Indonesia’s forests”- said Bruno Cammaert, FAO’s Forestry Officer.

Looking ahead

Much remains to be done to further improve the efficacy and the scope of on-the-ground Independent Forest Monitoring. JPIK’s campaigner, Muhammad Ichwan, emphasized “Monitoring and law enforcement must be enhanced and strengthened to minimize state losses from the deforestation and degradation of ecosystems, forest resources, as well as to protect the fragile habitats of fauna and flora. Regulations must be strengthened and better enforced, and the integrity of SVLK implementation must be increased to ensure and maintain national and international trust. Certification bodies auditing operators against SVLK standards, must be cooperative and quick to respond, especially in providing data and information to Independent Forest Monitors, to ensure effective monitoring and follow up.” Lastly, it is important that law enforcement agencies continue to act upon the findings included in the reports and put in place corrective measures.

At a time of increased risk of illegalities due to the reduced field level presence of law enforcement officers brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Independent Forest Monitoring activities are a practical and cost-effective way of upholding commitments to legality as enshrined within the VPA. Securing sustainable financing to ensure continued Independent Monitoring activities in Indonesia is crucial.

The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.

For more information:

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme

JPIK Website

FAO-EU FLEGT Programme Indonesia Photo Gallery on Flickr