ROBIN WOOD warns after timber analysis

New EU-Indonesian Agreement might increase the pressure on Tropical Forests even more

27. November 2016

The environmental NGO warns against the recently announced market
liberalizations due to the EU-Indonesian FLEGT-voluntary partnership
agreement (FLEGT-VPA). The treaty is expected to trigger a major push in
tropical timber trade, cause unchecked forest loss due to new forms of
illegality and broadly legalized depletion of rainforest ecosystems and
entail EU consumer confusion. These concerns are backed by
irregularities found in a recent ROBIN WOOD timber market check. A
FLEGT-VPA mahogany beach chair imported from Indonesia to Germany has
been found to be falsely declared as made of wood “harvested in
Indonesia”. The EU according to the Indonesian FLEGT-VPA, from now on
dispenses own import-controls and instead solely relies on attached
papers of the Indonesian timber legality assurance system. ROBIN WOOD
consequently demands a withdrawal of the agreement and until then urges
timber merchants and consumers to avoid Indonesian FLEGT-VPA wood products.

ROBIN WOOD´s undercover inspections of mahogany products encountered a
vendor in Greater Hamburg promoting beach chairs as made of “sustainable
cultivated” Indonesian FLEGT-VPA wood. According to the vendors
assertions and the corresponding SVLK document the mahogany was
harvested in West-Java Indonesia. A wood sample was sent to the
independent specialist laboratory Agroisolab. According to the head of
the institute Dr. Boner, the origin claimed as Indonesia yet is very
unlikely, results of the isotope analysis contradict with Indonesia.

“We suspect the following: Illegal mahogany wood was imported to
Indonesia to be processed into beach chairs. Subsequently these were
fraudulently equipped with a SVLK document before export to Germany”
says Sven Selbert tropical forest campaigner at ROBIN WOOD. With
FLEGT-VPA as a gateway to the EU market and widespread corruption,
Indonesia is in the danger not only to overexploit own resources but to
become hub for illegal timber from third countries.

This year's United Nation Environmental Programme´s and Interpol´s joint
Environmental Crime report gives two more reasons why the Indonesian
statistics for illegal timber sourcing are in decline in the past years.
Obtainment of official logging concessions and for the development of
industrial plantations from regional authorities are prone to
corruption. Furthermore letter-box timber plantations are commonly used
to launder and funnel predatory wood from natural forests into the
market. Both systems flourish despite the FLEGT process which began in
2007 and the VPA-pilot phase since 2013.

But it´s not all about illegality. Only because timber is claimed
“legal” under Indonesian law, this does not imply “sustaibability”.
Roughly a third of Indonesian´s remaining forest -approx. 27 Mha, an
area comparable to the territory of UK- is already assigned for logging
or industrial plantation development. The exploitation wood of these
forests could be labeled “FLEGT-licensed” and shipped without further
checkups to the EU. While the FLEGT-programme states to improve supply
and demand for legal wood, Indonesia biggest EU tropical timber supplier
has more concrete goals. Since the trade barriers have fallen timber
Export to the EU is to double asap, with a plus of 20% in next year
already. A year ago we saw a forest destructions of historical
dimension, caused by acts of arson mostly for land grabs. “To reward
Indonesia´s timber industry this year with omission of the European
Timber Regulation due diligence obligations, is as having honored TEPCO
for exemplary commitment for nuclear safety in the year 2012“, comments
Selbert upon the procedure.


Sven Selbert, Tropical Forest Campaigner, Tel. +49 (0)170 / 47 20 498,

Ute Bertrand, Spokesperson, Tel. +49 (0)171 / 835 95 15, presse(at)

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Background Information:
„Mogelei beim Mahagoni?“ - DER SPIEGEL, 26.11.2016, no. 48, p. 82.