Friday, 16 May 2008

Govt eyes wood products certification body

Govt eyes wood products certification body

Hyginus Hardoyo , The Jakarta Post , Yogyakarta Thu, 05/15/2008

With help from the Indonesian Ecolabelling Institute (IEI) and the European Union, the government is developing an executive body under the Forestry Ministry to be responsible for the certification of sustainable wood products and production system.

"The executive body will be at the same level as a directorate general within a ministry," IEI executive director Taufik Alwi said on the sidelines of a seminar on wood legality in Yogyakarta on Wednesday.

The IEI is a quasi-government body now temporarily in charge of issuing sustainable forest certification in the country with many of its members scholars or players in the forestry industry.

The IEI, he said, would formulate the wood certification standard for the proposed body, while the European Union would provide expert advisory and funding, although he refused to specify amounts.

Alwi said in order to ensure product certification compatibility and access to most international markets, the body would adapt a verification system used in 10 major green wood importing countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Britain, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

He also said the executive body would have the authority to issue certification for independent wood certification agencies.

He said while no deadlines had yet been set, the IEI sought to complete a draft of the certification standard soon.

The creation of an international standards-compliant body, he said, would result in an exponential increase in Indonesian wood products, which currently only account for 5 percent of the world market, entering major markets, particularly in Europe.

"Even though Indonesia has declared some of its wood products legal and made from sustainable harvested materials, buyers are not yet comfortable with the existing system's ability to verify product legality," he said.

The new system, he said, would be credible and efficient in that it would not require additional funding.

The existing system is subject to a large number of costly inspections by agencies both from central and regional administrations.

"Imagine, a business entity can be inspected up to 50 times per year on various subjects ranging from wood yields to boundary matters," Taufik said.

He said the IEI's existing program had already certified 1.1 million hectares of production forest, and aimed to expand to 2 million hectares by the end of the year.