Indonesia and the European Union have finalised an agreement aimed at ending the trade in illegally-sourced wood. Last year, a major assessment concluded that the rate of illegal logging in Indonesia had declined by about 75% over the preceding decade. Even so, it said, 40% of the timber harvested was illegal timber.
The agreement will mean that EU companies will only be able to import timber that is certified as complying with Indonesian environmental laws.
The East Asian nation possesses some of the world’s most lavish forests, which in turn support spectacular wildlife.
Currently, European countries import about $1.2bn (£720m) worth of timber and paper from Indonesia each year.
This accounts for about one-sixth of the nation’s exports.
Last year, a major assessment concluded that the rate of illegal logging in Indonesia had declined by about 75% over the preceding decade.
Even so, it said, 40% of the timber harvested was illegal.
This was despite an initiative dating back to 2003 in which the government, alongside environmental groups and some companies, attempted to rein in illegal loggers, processors and exporters.
Meanwhile, the US and EU have recently stepped up measures designed to block wood and wood products of illegal origin.
The US amended the Lacey Act so that companies are responsible for making sure their imports are legal, and the totemic Gibson guitar company is among those investigated as a result.
Last year, the European Parliament passed legislation with similar components, which comes into effect in March 2013.
Companies wanting to export to the EU will have to be able to track their products from forest to exporting port.
Independent auditors – yet to be appointed – will be charged with verifying that companies’ tracking is up to standard.
These auditors will report back to a joint Indonesian-EU committee.
Although only exports to Europe are covered by the agreement, the EU hopes that setting up the system will help Indonesia curb illegal logging and illegal exports across the board.
This information is courtesy of the BBC