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.
According to the official conference report, Mr Kurniawan also expressed the opinion that “a large part of the criteria of FSC certification, SVLK – the timber legality assurance system underpinning FLEGT – and Indonesia’s PHPL SFM system are broadly equivalent”. This statement demonstrates significant changes in perception over 2019, when Jesse Kuijper of the Borneo Initiative had said during the STTC Conference that he had seen legality and sustainability schemes in operation and FSC would be the only one that raised standards on the ground.
The 2020 online STTC Conference, which attracted a worldwide audience of 150, was titled ‘Holding the line and moving forward: Roots for green recovery’. Its focus was the need to halt tropical forest loss and associated adverse climatic impacts and wider environmental degradation and to incentivise implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM) by expanding the market for verified sustainable tropical timber. The complementary core theme was the growing understanding that, to tackle the environmental crisis more broadly, society globally needs to adopt a circular bioeconomic model, a core element of which is greater and more efficient use of sustainably produced natural raw materials. It’s a view recently given greater currency, with post-pandemic economic reconstruction seen as a major opportunity to accelerate this transition.
Sustainable tropical timber supply, said speakers, must be presented as integral to achieving this ‘green recovery’ and the bioeconomic switch. Several speakers highlighted the importance of setting clear criteria for “sustainability” with respect to timber usage. They also pointed out the relevance of public policies for driving responsible and sustainable consumption.
The official Conference report can be found here.
The day before the Conference, STTC also released its latest report on “verified sustainable” tropical timber trade in Europe. Like its 2019 predecessor, the report focusses primarily on FSC and PEFC certified timber, but also includes FLEGT-licensed timber as an indication of responsible sourcing. The report uses the “exposure to certification method” pioneered by the IMM project with own variations. It estimates that in 2019 28.5% of EU imports of primary tropical wood products and 33% of secondary wood products were exposed to certification. 11% and 42%, respectively, were exposed to FLEGT-licensing.
The report can be downloaded here.