The Jakarta Post, Pelalawan, Riau
Forestry companies are generally still reluctant to adopt sustainable management practices because most do not see the benefits for their businesses.
According to the Indonesian Ecolabeling Institute (LEI), which introduced a sustainable forestry management scheme to Indonesia in 1998, just 12 of hundreds of forestry-related companies in the country have adopted sustainable forest management practices and earned certification.
Manager of the institute, Gladi Haryanto, said recently most forestry companies felt there was little benefit to obtaining sustainable forest management certification, which is known as ecolabeling.
"Many companies have applied for the certification but when they failed to meet the requirements they withdrew because they can't see its benefit," Gladi said in Riau recently.
He said the sustainable management scheme was introduced to promote cooperation, mutual understanding and partnership among the various stakeholders in the industry, and to give forestry companies increased access to the international market.
In some developed countries especially in Europe, timber products with no ecolabelling or green certificate are prohibited.
But Indonesian forestry companies, which sell most of their products to South Korea and Japan, see no urgency in adopting the scheme.
Gladi said companies with ecolabeling certification benefited because they could export their goods to countries that set high standards for forestry products.
"Most developed countries prefer to have goods that are produced in a sustainable manner, so LEI certification helps them get trust. Several big buyers in Europe have accepted products with LEI certification," he said.
LEI, a constituent-based organization established in 1998, consists of panels representing NGOs, indigenous people, academics and business associations. Besides promoting certification systems for forestry, marine and agricultural products, LEI also takes a role in conflict resolution and policy advocacy.
He said LEI had two schemes of certification -- under third party assessment and under recognition over claim -- to asses the sustainability of forestry entities.
"Under the first scheme, selected assessors represent the certification body in conducting assessments, and under the second, a guarantor body represents the forestry managing community in conducting an assessment," Gladi said.
He said that although certification followed two different schemes, the overall process consisted of field pre-assessments, field assessments, gathering public input, performance evaluation, decision making and certification.
He said LEI certification, valid for five years, had three levels: gold, silver and bronze. He said a company that obtained bronze certification would be evaluated five times in a five-year period, silver two or three times and gold just once.
"Bronze companies can achieve a higher certification level if the evaluation result is good. On the other hand, if the result is bad, LEI can suspend the certification," Gladi said.
Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), which has bronze certification, says it is improving the sustainable management of its 159,500 hectare concession forest to upgrade its current certification.
President director of RAPP Rudi Fajar said the company hoped to raise its certification level from bronze to silver within two years to give it greater access in the international market.
Environment manager of RAPP Eliezer P Lorenzo said LEI certification was more difficult to process than certification from the Germany-based international organization Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), because the whole process had to be restarted if an applicant failed to meet any of the requirements needed to obtain certification.
Rudi said with LEI certification, orders for the company's paper products from overseas buyers had gone up because the buyers were sure the raw materials used in production were obtained from sustainable management practices.
"We will have a road show to disseminate this achievement because we want to make LEI certification a market strength," Rudi said. (tic)