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Communicating SVLK’s all-round environmental credentials 

Apr 22, 2022 | FLEGT Market News, News

The Journey of SVLK

SVLK gives assurance of forestry and timber sustainability – not just legality. That’s the core message of first outputs from a developing national and international promotional programme for the Indonesian environmental certification system.  

The campaign is being run by the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) with support from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, through MFP4 (the Multistakeholder Forestry Program Phase 4). It’s targeting its messaging at the range of audiences, including foreign buyers, end users of Indonesian wood and wood products, policy makers and NGOs using a range of tools and media, including booklets, factsheets, and video.

These initial campaign executions, plus a new SVLK Indonesia logo – a transformation of the V-verification circled green tick and leaf – were first released at COP26 in Glasgow. Subsequently campaign publications were distributed in the Indonesia Pavilion at Dubai Expo and soon will be made more widely available, with the UK, EU/Europe, China and Japan as initial key target markets. 

These first steps are billed as the start of a long-term strategy to boost international awareness of the SVLK system; the aim, to grow Indonesian wood exports in an increasingly environmentally conscious international market and drive development of its forestry and timber industries.  Alongside, the promotional campaign is intended to raise SVLK’s profile in the domestic market, at the same time as SVLK certification is more firmly prepared as a requirement of Indonesian government timber procurement policy.  

“Indonesia has strengthened the SVLK implementation by emphasising its sustainability principles into higher law and regulation in Indonesia. We have transformed the brand from the Indonesia Timber Legality Assurance System into SVLK Indonesia – Forest Legality and Sustainability Assurance System” said Director General Sustainable Forest Management MoEF Dr. Agus Justianto in his opening remarks before the launch of the new SVLK logo at COP 26 in Glasgow by the Vice Minister of Environment and Forestry.

One campaign leaflet, titled SVLK Indonesia, details the system’s development from its launch in 2001. It stresses that SVLK from the outset was designed to ensure timber legality, forest sustainability and wood product credibility, to promote sustainable timber trading and provide product traceability to ‘legal and sustainable sources’.  However, as it was previously branded the ‘Timber Legality Assurance System’, and also described as having ‘issues around terminology’, buyers and consumers regarded it first and foremost as proof of legality.   This and the ‘shift of international markets towards responsible trading of forest products’, led not just to the decision to boost communication of SVLK’s wider economic, social and environmental benefits and it’s rebranding late last year as the Indonesian Forestry Legality and Sustainability Assurance System, but to underpin this by ‘strengthening the system with a more robust regulatory framework’ and greater ‘regularity emphasis on sustainability’. 

The leaflet states that, besides providing assurance that timber products are produced in compliance with all local laws and regulation in Indonesia, SVLK certification gives proof too that the forests where the wood originates have been managed to strict environmental, economic and social criteria. These ensure use of reduced impact logging, demarcation of protected areas and protection of endangered species. Sustainable forest management rules also demand that companies undertake environmental impact assessments and incorporate sustainable landscape management into operations to ‘optimize timber and non-timber forest production’ and forests’ provision of environmental services. 

SVLK, it’s stated, also requires commitment from forest and timber business that their operations impact positively on all stakeholders, especially communities who live in and around the forests, through acknowledgment of workers’ rights, recognition of customary land rights for local people, as well as fair distribution of access and benefits.

It’s explained that technical and financial support is also being given by the Indonesian Government to small to medium-sized businesses to undertake environmental impact assessments, while forest and timber business permit processes have been simplified. This is to ensure that sustainable business practices under SVLK are economically inclusive, not only enhancing environmental protection, but ‘improving quality of life of local communities.

As part of the SVLK promotional push, MoEF and MFP4 have also produced a 12-page booklet titled Indonesia supplies responsibly sourced high quality forest products using accountable production processes. The focus is once more on SVLK-certification as guarantee of sustainability and the system’s environmental, social and economic criteria. It’s presented as an integral element of a sustainability-centered national legislative agenda. This, it says, ‘not only provides a strong legal basis for Indonesia to protect endangered species, stop deforestation, eliminate illegal logging and illegal timber trade, but also contributes to global climate change solutions’. 

The SVLK system, says the booklet, also  provides effective chain of custody which ‘can uncover illegal timber by regulating chain of custody of verification of forest products’. 

It highlights too the role of independent monitoring of the system, notably the part   played by the Independent Forestry Monitoring Network (JPIK). “SVLK was built upon a multistakeholder consultation process [and] forestry professionals, civil society, indigenous peoples, and academics all play a significant role in monitoring forestry practices in Indonesia, as mandated by the law,” it says. “JPIK is one of the largest networks conducting forest monitoring and together with other independent forestry monitoring organizations, has significantly contributed to SVLK credibility, transparency, and accountability.”

Another focus is policy and enforcement. It’s highlighted that between 2015 to 2020, Indonesia has confiscated 21,497 m3 illegal wood from 611 counter-illegal logging operations

The increasing environmental sensitivity of the international timber trade is acknowledged, with 80% of Indonesia’s timber and wood product exports reported now to be destined for markets that require proof of legality. Continued development of SVLK is held up as the country’s response. The booklet also talks up the quality and variety of Indonesian timber and forest products, from plywood and chipboard, to pulp, paper, and sawn hardwoods suited to a range of uses, from construction to furniture making.

Further factsheets from the SVLK campaign focus on SVLK and FLEGT licensing, growth in Indonesia’s timber and wood product exports, its efforts to combat illegal logging and SVLK and the furniture industry.  The first looks at SVLK’s role as the timber legality assurance system behind FLEGT licensing. It details the growth in SVLK forest and timber business certification; with a total of 23 million ha of forests and 100% of timber produced from natural forest concessions and plantations SVLK certified by 2019, plus 4,477 ‘forest-based’ businesses. It also states that from the start of licensing in 2016 to 2019, 117,000 FLEGT legality assurance licenses had been issued for exports to the EU [and the UK] and 1.15 million V-legal documents for exports elsewhere. Total exports increased by 30% in just six years, from US$ 6 billion in 2013, to US$ 9.2 billion in 2016, and US$ 11.6 billion in 2019.  They contracted through the worst of the pandemic in 2020 to US$11.05 billion, but recovered strongly, to US$13.573 billion, in 2021.

Indonesia, states the campaign, is also now seeking to expand international acceptance of SVLK and negotiating VPAs with other countries such as Australia and Japan.

The Journey of Indonesian furniture promotional film describes how SVLK assures product traceability to sustainably managed forests and ‘ecological integrity, economic vitality, and social equity (including participation of women) through the timber supply chain’. 

It’s stressed that the lion’s share of funding for further development of the SVLK campaign will come from MoEF and other Indonesian ministries, trade associations and businesses. But the UK and Indonesia agreed last year to extend the MFP4 programme beyond its original 2021 end date to March 2023, so it will also continue to support the promotional effort from its total five-year project budget of about £8 million.

MFP4 now plans to support development of an international showcase for Indonesian furniture in co-operation with the Furniture Industry and Handicraft Association (ASMINDO). Products, designed and made in Indonesia, using SVLK-certified timber and bearing the SVLK logo will also be used more widely in the campaign to encourage dialogue around the system and its legality and sustainability credentials.

Further underlining SVLK certification’s claims to the latter, initial studies have been undertaken into possible closer collaboration between its mandatory certification scheme and voluntary certification schemes’.  Combined audits have also been evaluated for the impact on costs.  

MoEF and MFP4 will also further evolve SVLK communication strategy for Indonesia itself and guidelines for application of the new brand, and its sustainability assurance messaging, have been developed for both international and domestic markets.    

To download the SVLK campaign materials and film click below.

SVLK Committed to Sustainability – video

The Journey of Indonesian Furniture – video

The story of SVLK Indonesia (pdf)

The journey of SVLK to FLEGT Licensing (pdf)

Factsheet – SVLK increase Indonesia timber export (pdf)

Factsheet – SVLK for eradication of illegal logging in Indonesia -(pdf)

Factsheet – Indonesian Furniture – Connection the Passion (pdf)

Booklet – MFP4 – Indonesia Supplies Responsibly Sourced (pdf)