Friday, 6 June 2008

Wood certification ups market access

Wood certification ups market access

Hyginus Hardoyo , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Fri, 06/06/2008

Indonesian wooden furniture producers verified under third-party sustainable forest or legal logging licenses are guaranteed better access to the international market, a discussion revealed Wednesday.

Jajag Suryoputro of Yogyakarta-based furniture firm PT Jawa Furni Lestari said in a discussion on wood certification in Jakarta that he had received a sales guarantee from his international buyers stipulating that his products must be verified.

The discussion was held by the Indonesian Furniture Producers Association (Asmindo) and Senada -- a four-year project financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

"We got a warm welcome from the buyers in the international market where the demand for certified wood furniture is on a steady increase," he said.

Jajag said from August last year and March this year his company, which has an export capacity of 14 containers of wood products per month, gained US$1.05 million in export proceeds.

"Up to 60 percent of our products were shipped to Europe and the other 40 percent to the United States and Canada," he said.

Buyers can choose from one of three verification stamps: Sustainable Forest Management (SFM), Verification of Legal Origin (VLO) and Chain of Custody (CoC). The VLO and CoC stamps prove the legality of the wood, while SFM certifies the wood came from a sustainable forest.

Asmindo chairman Ambar Tjahyono said more and more buyers required such verifications.

"Primary markets including the EU and the U.S. have developed or are developing bilateral and multilateral agreements to prevent imports of timber-based products manufactured from unconfirmed sources," Ambar told the discussion.

Asmindo estimates Indonesia's wooden furniture exports last year reached US$897 million, or a 10 percent increase from $816.03 million in the previous year.

Steve Smith, Senada's project director, said "Eventually the market will require all furniture to be produced from sustainably-managed timber sources.

"Legal verification is a stepping stone to build discipline in tracking legal timber and in implementing improved procedures in furniture factories," he added.

Senada is now working with certification bodies and consultants to provide technical assistance for the VLO and FSC certification process for at least 40 furniture firms from Yogyakarta, Central Java, and from East Java.
Nine companies have so far been audited as of May 2008 -- five for VLO and four for FSC.

Loy D. Jones, Asia Pacific regional manager of SmartWood, an internationally recognized FSC certification agency, said in the long run, the verification of legal sources would give furniture producers a competitive edge.

"Healthy forests will lead to healthy forest product industries," he added.