The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Indonesian Ecolabelling Institute (LEI) said it was working toward better managing the increased demand for ecolabel-certified timber products from Indonesia.
Indonesia's furniture and handicraft group (Asmindo) and furniture maker PT Setyamitra agreed on the weekend via a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together with LEI.
By signing the MOU, all groups have committed to preserve the environment, market products made from certified forests and to improve the quality of timber products using available new technologies.
LEI said it would ensure Setyamitra would supply high-quality seedlings for reforestation programs and would use modern wood-turning technologies.
"The MOU shows our commitment to boosting the growth of certified community forests," LEI executive director Taufiq Alimi said in a press statement.
"We are confident this cooperation and a certification program on community forests will mean we are able to protect community forests, improve the community's welfare and improve our furniture exports," Taufiq said.
LEI had also helped find enterprises in Wonogiri, Central Java, to partner Setyamitra in its new focus on ecolabel-certified, export-quality products, he said.
The furniture company said it would open a marketing office in Yogyakarta and a furniture outlet in Kemang, South Jakarta.
Asmindo chairman Ambar Tjahjono said his association had been interested in Setyamitra's green program because it was committed to use timber from well-managed industrial forests.
"We want all furniture companies and those using forest products as raw materials to follow Setyamitra's example in preserving the environment and rejecting the use of illegal logging," he said.
Alimi said Indonesia's forested areas had declined to 90 million hectares.
He said only 1.1 million hectares were managed in accordance with the sustainable development program.
"We expect to certify community forests along the southern part of Java," he said.
"And we are pushing certification for customary forests in Sui Utik village, Kapuas Hulu in West Kalimantan.
"There are some major forestry firms currently in the process of certification.
"Hopefully, some 3 million hectares of forest will get LEI certification by 2009", he said.
LEI's communication manager Indra Setia said the growing demand for ecolabel-certified wood products had had a profound impact on the furniture sector, including buyers, agents and industry associations.
"Most are asking LEI how and where to get ecolabel-certified timber to meet their clients' demands," Indra said.
"We usually refer them to companies that have received ecolabel certification from LEI, particularly community forests in the southern part of Central Java."
Wonogiri regency in Central Java and Gunung Kidul regency in Yogyakarta have 5,200 hectares of community forest areas that are ecolabel certified.
The forests have an annual production of 90 cubic meters of wood.