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To grow and develop EU and UK demand for FLEGT-licensed furniture requires promotion in these markets of what a FLEGT Licence stands for and the business benefits in terms of assured legality and exemption from EUTR due diligence.  It also demands that more FLEGT VPA partner countries join Indonesia and get to FLEGT licensing stage to boost the EU’s choice of FLEGT-licensed products and supplier.

Speaking at the November 2020 Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) Conference, Iwan Kurniawan of The Borneo Initiative recommended greater collaboration and synergy between FSC and the EU FLEGT programme in Indonesia to streamline auditing and improve the economics of certified sustainable forest management. “The current average annual cost of auditing separately for FSC and SVLK is around $49,000,” said Mr Kurniawan. “Joint auditing could cut this by 31%. He added that a motion proposing joint FSC and SVLK audits would be discussed at the 2021 FSC general assembly. 

In 2020, IMM commissioned a follow-up study of FLEGT impact on forest sector investment in Indonesia and Viet Nam. The study identified correlation between a rise in forest sector investment and a shift in investment from the pulp and paper towards the wood processing and furniture manufacturing sector in Indonesia during the last decade.

Analysis of trade data shows in the latest IMM Annual Report demonstrates that the goal of closing world markets to illegal wood products is already well advanced – even if recent steps towards regulation in China are discounted for now. In 2019, 66.5% (US$27.6 billion) of the total value (US$41.5 billion) of recorded tropical wood product exports worldwide were destined for countries with regulatory measures to eliminate illegal trade (Figure 1). This compares to 62.2% of tropical trade in 2018. The rise in the proportion of tropical wood products destined for regulated markets in 2019 was due primarily to the decline in imports by China, considered here an unregulated market, while US imports of wood products from tropical countries, particularly Viet Nam increased sharply during the year. 

IMM’s 2019 EU trade survey saw Indonesia and Malaysia overtake Cameroon as the expected most important supplier of tropical timber five years from now (chart 1). In 2018, Cameroon had been perceived to be the most important future supplier, followed by Brazil, Congo Republic, Malaysia and Indonesia. The survey question on the future of tropical timber supply was answered by 95 European timber and timber product importers and merchants in 2019 and by 67 in 2018.

National and international efforts to ensure a legal and sustainable global timber trade, including the EU FLEGT initiative, should engage more with micro and small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs). That’s the conclusion of a briefing paper from the Global Timber Forum (GTF) – Enhancing the Development of a Responsible SME Forest Products Sector: Recommendations and Call to Action for National and International Policies and Programmes. 

The updated open access IMM Data Dashboard and STIX websites allow users to tailor timber trade data presentation and analysis to their requirements. To be of value to timber businesses, and other sector stakeholders, it’s vital that industry trade data is both current and accessible - available in comprehensible, user-friendly and relevant formats. The IMM’s Data Dashboard has recently been redeveloped to make it easier to navigate. New visualization tools have also been added, so users can select and present information specific to their needs.

Accurate and timely information on timber trade flows is crucial to understanding market developments, including the impact and effectiveness of FLEGT policy measures. The ability to access trade data in near real-time has taken on even greater significance during the period of unprecedented global disruption caused by COVID-19. At a webinar on 20 October, the FLEGT Independent Market Monitor (IMM) will introduce two new, innovative and freely accessible online sources of trade data - the IMM's own Data Dashboard and the Sustainable Timber Information Exchange (STIX). 

A brand refresh is among the tasks of a new communications drive for Indonesia’s SVLK timber legality assurance system. The initiative, backed by the UK-funded Multi-stakeholder Forestry Programme (MFP4), aims to raise awareness of the value of SVLK certification at home and abroad. 

The promulgation of the Republic of the Congo’s (ROC) new Forest Code (Law 33-2020 July 8, 2020) marks a milestone for legal reform  that started  eight years ago.

The need for reform was partly prompted by negotiations for then entry into force of the country’s FLEGT VPA with the European Union (EU), requiring that all timber products, both exported and sold domestically, be produced legally.

The FSC has approved the Indonesian National Forest Stewardship Standard (NFSS) as compliant with its principles and criteria and says it took Indonesia’s SVLK timber legality assurance system (TLAS), FLEGT licensing status and PHPL sustainable forest management system into account in the process.

Implementation of a new Swiss timber regulation, equivalent to the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) has been further delayed, and now looks unlikely to happen before 2022. Often referred to as the ‘Swiss EUTR’, the regulation has been in discussion for several years. Besides reinforcing Swiss efforts  to combat illegal timber imports,