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How Wood Identification Technologies Help Ensure Timber Legality in Indonesia

This working paper elaborates on the reasons why illegal logging activities still exist in Indonesia despite the efforts that have been made by the government. This paper offers recommendations for tackling the misdeclaration of timber information. It aims to provide recommendations to the Government of Indonesia to strengthen the SVLK's role in ensuring timber legality and enforcing the law by applying science-based technologies as criminal evidence for illegal logging cases.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

  • In 2009, Indonesia established the Timber Legality Assurance System (Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu; SVLK). However, records of misdeclarations of species and origin indicate that illegal logging and the illegal timber trade persist.
  • In Indonesia, forest areas are divided into two categories: state forests and nonstate forests. Each category has a different way of reporting in the SVLK. For this paper, we collected information about SVLK implementation in the field from various nongovernmental organization (NGO) reports (state forests) and from field work (nonstate forests).
  • This paper explores the potential of wood identification (ID) technologies in generating information about timber species and origin through literature review and correspondence with experts who have experience applying the technologies in illegal logging cases. The ability of these technologies to generate species and origin information is essential in proving the legality of traded timber.
  • Our assessment found that Indonesia has a moderately decent capacity for applying wood ID technologies in term of experts and infrastructure. Investing in the development of a wood reference database and laboratory equipment, as well as a legal framework to integrate these technologies into SVLK regulations, would enable the technologies to improve Indonesia’s effort to prevent illegal logging and illegal timber trading.

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