Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Of the more than 60 forestry concessionaires operating in Indonesia, only six produce eco-friendly timber products based on sustainable forestry practices, an international green-forestry certifier says.
SmartWood, a non-profit organization established by the Rainforest Alliance that promotes green-forestry certification, said that the low number of companies securing eco-friendly certificates was due to a lack of public awareness about the need for forest protection.
"It is now up to the public to force forest companies to promote environmentally sustainable practices in their operations by purchasing only certified timber and timber products," Aisyah Erawati Sileuw, SmartWood's forest management coordinator for the Asia Pacific region, said Tuesday.
Toronto, Canada-based SmartWood offers the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate, the only international green-forestry accreditation available to date
However, there is no obligation on forestry firms to obtain such a certificate.
Products crafted from certified wood include furniture, plywood, moldings, flooring and window frames.
The Rainforest Alliance has so far certified more than 1,400 companies holding concessions extending to more than 31 million hectares worldwide.
The six Indonesian forest concessionaires that have received certification account for only 847,750 hectares out of a total concession area of 600 million hectares.
Certification involves compliance with 10 principles, including enhancing the social and economic benefits for local communities, and conserving forest diversity.
Aisyah said that certification enabled consumers to chose products that were manufactured in accordance with strict environmental guidelines.
However, as there was no demand for certified timber products from local buyers, the six companies exported all of their certified products to such markets as the United States and the European nations.
Indonesia is a key exporter of timber, paper and palm oil to China, Japan, South Korea and a number of European nations.
Aisyah said that greater public awareness about certified wood products would help reduce the rate of forest destruction here.
"Indonesia loses an area of forest equal to six soccer fields every minute. At the present time, 72 percent of our forests is heavily damaged," she said.
Indonesia has long been under pressure to stop rampant illegal logging and forest fires so as to save the country's forests and help contain global warming.
Forest fires have made the country the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitting country after the United States and China.