VPA supports increased law enforcement against illegal logging in Indonesia

VPA supports increased law enforcement against illegal logging in Indonesia

Indonesia has been stepping up action against illegal logging and other forest crimes, with an increase in law enforcement operations and hundreds of court cases in the past three years. However, improving monitoring and law enforcement remains a challenging task.

by Robertus Pudyanto, EU FLEGT Facility

Indonesia has published data on law enforcement against illegal logging and other crimes in its “State of Indonesia’s Forests 2018” report. The report shows that operations against illegal logging increased in number from 25 in 2015 to 88 in 2017, in which authorities seized nearly 4,000 cubic metres of wood.

In the same period, the number of operations against forest encroachment rose from 27 to 137, covering an area of more than three million hectares. There were also 400 court cases relating to forest crimes between 2015-2017, with 175 of them being for illegal logging.

The increase in law enforcement has come in parallel with Indonesia’s implementation of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the EU to improve forest governance and prevent illegal timber products from entering its supply chains.

While the VPA alone could never stop all illegal logging, it does provide ways to identify and report illegality and to monitor the legal resolution of confirmed cases. It recognises and supports a role for Indonesian citizens and civil society groups as independent forest monitors, and has created mechanisms for them to report concerns about suspected illegal logging and trade.

Despite the gains, Indonesian nongovernmental groups and the Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission urge the government on central and local level to do more to enforce the law and follow up on cases raised by the independent forest monitors. 

Indonesia's Independent Forest Monitoring Organisation (JPIK) published a short report praising Indonesian and EU efforts to tackle illegal logging and associated trade, but also urging the two parties to improve credibility and accountability of the timber legality assurance system (SVLK).  

In a boost for transparency, Indonesia is currently building an interactive platform in SILK, Indonesia’s online timber legality database. The platform will be used to publish and monitor cases of non-compliance by private sector actors. Work is progressing to upload the available information on non-compliance cases and develop procedures for nongovernmental groups to directly provide information to Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry for inclusion in the database. 

The EU and Indonesia meet regularly to oversee implementation of the VPA and agree on action for continuous improvement, including in the area of law enforcement. The VPA itself requires compliance with a variety of laws relating to forest management, tax, worker safety, and other issues.