New EU-Indonesia bilateral agreement – technically a Voluntary Partnership Agreement – will see Indonesian timber and timber products systematically checked under an independently monitored traceability system to ensure they are produced in compliance with relevant Indonesian legislation.
Voluntary Partnership Agreements represent a key element of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, under which the EU aims to strengthen forest governance and contribute to global efforts to eliminate illegal logging and related trade.
Per the EU Press Release on this – illegal logging is a major problem in many developing countries, posing a significant threat to forests. It contributes to the process of deforestation and forest degradation, threatens biodiversity, and undermines sustainable forest management and development.
In March 2013 the EU Timber Regulation entered into force prohibiting the sale of illegally harvested timber. The EU Timber Regulation obliges EU operators to ask suppliers for evidence that timber has been legally harvested. Once fully implemented, the FLEGT agreement with Indonesia will mean that Indonesian timber exports are considered to be fully compliant with the EU Timber Regulation. In this way EU demand for legal timber is expected to reinforce Indonesia’s efforts to eliminate illegal logging.
Indonesia is already rolling out a timber legality verification system on which the agreement with the EU is based. Known as the SVLK system, it foresees checks at various levels to ensure that the scheme is transparent and credible.
The first Voluntary Partnership Agreement to be formally concluded was with Ghana, followed by Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Liberia and Central African Republic.. Negotiations are on-going with Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Guyana, Honduras, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Here is the EU guidance document on the EU Timber Regulation.