Indonesia, EU License Legal Timber Trade

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By Sunny Lewis                                                                      Follow us at: @Maximpactdotcom

BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 10, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and European Council President Donald Tusk will promote trade in legally produced timber between the European Union and Indonesia through the start of the first Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) licensing plan.

The market effects of the plan are being monitored by the FLEGT Independent Market Monitoring mechanism, a multi-year project supervised by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and financed by the EU.

The April 21st announcement, on the occasion of President Widodo’s visit to Brussels, follows a joint assessment of Indonesia’s forest management.

Investigators found that illegal logging, which destroyed so much of Indonesia’s rainforest, has decreased since 2000, and Indonesia is fully ready to implement the Indonesia–EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

The EU can now complete the moves that will make Indonesia’s FLEGT licensing fully operational.

When these procedures are complete, the Indonesia–EU Joint Implementation Committee will recommend a date for FLEGT licensing to start, expected later in 2016, making Indonesia the first country to deliver licensed timber.

In a joint statement, presidents Widodo, Juncker and Tusk said, “Indonesia and the EU are close partners in addressing environmental challenges. We are committed to the sustainable management of forests and to fighting illegal logging and related illegal trade.”

“The EU welcomes the implementation for all types of wood products of the Indonesian Timber Legality Assurance System. We welcome the full implementation of the Indonesia-EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade and agree to move expeditiously towards the start of the FLEGT licensing scheme. We look forward to the first shipment of FLEGT-certified timber from Indonesia in the coming months.”

“The EU is committed to ensuring the uniform and effective implementation of the European Union Timber Regulation,” the three presidents said.

FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits EU operators from placing illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market.

With mandatory checks of the timber legality assurance system that meet international market requirements in place, the government of Indonesia expects timber product exports to increase, delivering more rural jobs, income and growth.

Indonesia’s rainforests are the third largest in the world, but they are also among the most endangered. Much of the country’s forests have disappeared into the country’s enormous timber processing mills.

A 2007 UN Environmental Program report estimated that 73 to 88 percent of timber logged in Indonesia was illegally sourced. More recent estimates place the figure at 40 to 55 percent.

Even forests in national parks are at risk. A 2010 report by five U.S. environmental groups quotes the Indonesian government as admitting that timber is illegally harvested from 37 of the nation’s 41 national parks

With EU support and in coordination with the Indonesian FLEGT Licensing authorities, the FLEGT Independent Market Monitoring mechanism is responsible for regularly assessing the impact of licensing on trade from Indonesia and the other 14 tropical countries engaged in the FLEGT VPA process.

Benefitting from support from the European Commission and EU Member States, the FLEGT VPA in Indonesia has strengthened forest governance by increasing transparency, accountability and stakeholder participation in decisions about forests.

Indonesia has boosted legal trade, modernized and formalized its forest sector, and improved business practices, enabling many thousands of businesses to meet market demand for legal timber.

With EU support, Indonesia has trained nearly 15,000 local government supervisors, sustainable forest management technicians, staff at regional forest management offices, and village heads.

Suar wood coffee tables at IndoGemstone Bali, Indonesia's rustic home decor and natural style furniture manufacturing company. (Photo by IndoGemstone) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Suar wood coffee tables at IndoGemstone Bali, Indonesia’s rustic home decor and natural style furniture manufacturing company. (Photo by IndoGemstone) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Indonesia has used its timber legality assurance system to audit the legality of more than 20 million hectares of forests and more than 1,700 forest industries, an unprecedented level of scrutiny.

Now over 90 percent of Indonesian timber exports come from independently audited factories and forests, and the remainder will be audited in the coming months.

To ensure that small businesses such as furniture-makers are not left out, Indonesia allocated seven billion rupiah in 2015 to help more than 1,200 small and medium-sized enterprises become certified legal under the timber legality assurance system.

To date, 93 percent of Indonesia’s small and medium-sized furniture exporters have been certified legal, enabling them to export their products to an increasingly educated international market.

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest producers of tropical timber, accounting for around 17 percent of the global value of tropical timber trade in 2013, according to the IMM Baseline Report. The country exports sawnwood, plywood, pulp and paper, furniture and handicrafts.

The majority of Indonesian forest product exports are to China, Japan, South Korea and the EU. In 2014, the EU accounted for 8.9 percent of the value of all timber product exports from Indonesia, up from 8.4 percent in 2013.

EU imports of wood and wood furniture from Indonesia in 2015 had a value of €803 million, 17 percent higher than in 2014. In 2015, Indonesia was the second-largest tropical supplier of wood and wood furniture products to the EU, just behind Vietnam, and it accounted for 21 percent of all EU imports from tropical countries.


License Legal Timber Trade images:

Main image: A barge transporting logs in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. (Photo by Achmad Ibrahim for Center for International Forestry Research, CIFOR) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Featured image: These illegal logs were seized, while in transit, and are impounded at district police offices, Riau, Sumatra, Indonesia, 2010. (Photo by Sofi Mardiah for Center for International Forestry Research, CIFOR) Creative Commons license via Flickr

 

 

Nonprofit Lawyers: It’s not an Oxymoron, It’s ELAW

ELAWlawyersBy Sunny Lewis

EUGENE, Oregon, October 19, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The nonprofit Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) is the go-to organization for 300+ lawyers in more than 70 countries who act as environmental defenders.

Based in an historic house in downtown Eugene, the ELAW Secretariat helps its partners around the world gain skills and build strong organizations of their own that will work to protect the environment for years to come.

ELAW Executive Director Bern Johnson says, “Our work is better known in Jakarta or Mexico City or New Delhi than it is in Eugene.”

Since 10 lawyers started ELAW in 1989, the organization has offered the legal tools to help associates strengthen existing environmental laws, bring enforcement actions, critique proposed statutes, and replicate model laws.

These advocates rely on ELAW staff scientists to critique plans for proposed developments, develop systems to monitor environmental conditions, provide expert testimony, and recommend cleaner alternatives.

ELAW has hosted more than 100 lawyers for fellowships. They come to Eugene to gain language skills, tap legal and scientific resources, work closely with ELAW staff, and learn from U.S. efforts to protect communities and the environment.

Funded by donations from foundations and private citizens, ELAW has a budget for helping lawyers challenging injustice, who often face serious legal or other consequences for their advocacy.

 

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Clearing India’s Ganges River of Industrial Polluters

For 30 years, ELAW partners in India, led by the pioneering Goldman Prize winner M.C. Mehta, have fought to clean up the Ganges River. Contamination in the Ganges far exceeds World Health Organization standards.

A case that began in 2013 when ELAW partners Rahul Choudhary and Ritwick Dutta filed a suit in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against a single polluter in the town of Simbhaoli has mushroomed into a case against some 1,000 industrial polluters along the Ganges River in five states.

Last fall, the Supreme Court gave the NGT exclusive jurisdiction to clean up the Ganges, and the NGT responded by sending teams of inspectors to investigate each polluting industry.

ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik is reviewing inspection reports and helping partners identify which polluters are violating the law and harming the Ganges.

This approach is yielding results. More than 60 industries that had been operating without wastewater pollution controls have been closed, including dozens of tanneries in the notorious Jajmau industrial district of Kanpur.

Read a report from ELAW on Cleaning up the Ganges.

 

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Ukraine’s Rivers Dammed to Trickles

Remote rivers in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains are among the world’s most beautiful, but ELAW advocates allege that “corrupt investors” are “installing small hydropower projects that are reducing rivers to a trickle, stranding fish.”

More than 300 small hydropower projects are proposed for the region.

ELAW Staff Scientist Heidi Weiskel traveled to Verkhovyna in the Ivano-Frakivsk region in August to help Ukrainian partners protect the rivers.

Joining her were staff scientist Petro Testov and staff attorneys Marta Pankevych and Nataliia Kuts from ELAW’s partner organization, Environment-People-Law.

“What we saw was devastating,” Weiskel exclaimed. “Dams and pipes were siphoning most of the water out of rivers, leaving small fish ladders so poorly constructed that fish had no chance of survival. Sediment-filled water dumped by powerhouses compromised water quality for hundreds of meters downstream.”

The Carpathians are being destroyed, she says. “In the wake of the new roads servicing the dams and powerhouses, we saw illegal logging, fragmented landscapes, and the disruption of natural migration for many species.”

At a September 7 roundtable in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, Environment-People-Law Executive Director Olena Kravchenko called for a moratorium on small hydropower “until the government, investors, and developers can meet strict criteria to protect the viability of this watershed.”

Globally, water pollution is getting worse as the population grows.

The United Nations says 80 percent of all sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated into waterways. There is the legacy pollution of abandoned mines and drill sites, and polluting industries, such as leather and chemicals, seek to set up shop in emerging economies.

Read the UN report “Sick Waters? – The Central Role of Wastewater Management in Sustainable Development”

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Safeguarding Guatemala’s Clean Water

The Motagua River flows from Guatemala’s Western Highlands, gathering the waters of 29 other rivers as it runs to the Gulf of Honduras. But today it does not flow as cleanly as it has for centuries.

“Tons of domestic and industrial waste, untreated effluent, and sewage from urban and rural communities go right into the river,” says ELAW Staff Scientist Meche Lu who toured the Motagua this summer. “The neglect and level of contamination is appalling.”

In Guatemala, an ELAW staff scientist is working with the Guatemalan organization Environmental and Water Law Alliance to raise awareness about Motagua River pollution and engage citizens and government authorities in conservation

“Cleaning up the Motagua is not just about protecting nature, it’s about giving local people dignity,” says Lu.

PeruOilCommunityMeeting

De-Oiling Peruvian Rivers

Since 2002 ELAW has helped advocates in Peru protect indigenous communities and rivers of the Peruvian Amazon – the Corrientes, the Tigre, the Pastaza, and the Marañón rivers – from toxic oil industry pollution.

In the early 1970s, multinational oil companies, such as Oxy and PlusPetrol, began drilling for oil in these watersheds. Many pipelines have ruptured and the companies have released contaminated by-products into the water.

The contamination has harmed Quechuea, Achuar, and Cocama Cocamilla indigenous communities, who rely on these rivers for clean water and fish.

The contamination in the four river basins has become so severe that Peruvian authorities declared an environmental emergency in September 2013.

Lu has been helping the indigenous federations in collaboration with PUINAMUDT, an umbrella organization formally named Observatorio Petrolero de la Amazonia Norte.

She has interpreted dozens of water quality reports containing evidence of how the Corrientes, Tigre, Pastaza, and Marañón rivers have been harmed by oil and gas activities and presented this evidence at workshops with community leaders and government representatives.

In April, after lengthy debate, the Peruvian Congress set aside US$50 million to clean up contamination in these watersheds and plan to prevent and respond to future spills.

Now Lu is helping ELAW’s Peruvian partners design and implement a health and toxicology assessment of the affected communities.

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Fuming Over Coal in Egypt’s Cement Industry

Egyptians are concerned that without citizen input their government is moving to allow multinational cement corporations to switch from clean burning gas to polluting coal-fired kilns.

The cement companies are facing lack of access to a reliable natural gas supply. The switch saves corporate dollars but threatens public health.

“Natural gas-fired cement plants do not emit any particulate matter or sulfur dioxide,” says ELAW Staff Scientist Chernaik. “By switching to coal, the plants will emit twice as much CO2 [carbon dioxide], and add particulates and SO2 [sulphur dioxide] on top.”

ELAW partners at the Habi Center for Environmental Rights say the plans by Lafarge and Suez Cement “violate the environmental rights of citizens, especially their right to health, healthy clean environment, right to information and participation.”

Habi and eight local organizations are demanding that the companies make public the environmental impacts of switching to coal.

Lafarge is experimenting with municipal waste as a fuel. There’s no access problem. Cairo produces 15,000 tons of municipal waste each day, while the El Sokhna Lafarge plant uses just 15-20 tons a day.

To ensure quality and regularity of supply, Lafarge involved the Zabbaleen, the local informal network who have sorted and resold Cairo’s recyclable waste for the past 80 years. A team of Zabbaleen people was hired and trained to collect, treat and recycle waste for Lafarge Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy agreed this month to assess the environmental impact of seven out of 19 cement companies that have conducted studies to use coal as an alternative source of energy.


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: ELAW Logo
Header image: ELAW lawyers, partner advocates, scientists and staff at the 2015 ELAW Annual International Meeting, Yachats, Oregon, March 2015.  (Photo courtesy ELAW)
Image 01: Waterway in the Jajmau industrial district of Kanpur, India. (Photo by Mark Chernaik courtesy ELAW)
Image 02: One of the small hydropower dams being built in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains (Photo courtesy ELAW)
Image 03: Children Washing Hands at School Handwashing Station in Pahuit, Guatemala photo by Cecilia Snyder photo courtesy Flicker – Water For People/Nancy Haws
Image 05:  Egyptian cement bags courtesy PEi