Independent monitoring of forestry is an important part of the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), which is the government’s effort to ensure that forest management and utilization are in accordance with their designation. However, in practice, illegal logging and use of timber, and not in accordance with the laws and regulations, is still common in Indonesia.
The findings of the Mangkubumi Environmental Education Center (PPLH) that during the period 2020 to 2021, there have been a number of violations related to logging and utilization of forest wood by holders of Timber Legality Certificates (S-LK). These violations include logging outside the Annual Work Plan and outside the concession permit, falsification of timber documents, and the practice of buying and selling V-Legal documents by non-producer exporters.
Spokesman for PPLH Mangkubumi, Agus Budi Purwanto, said illegal logging practices were still rampant in a number of forest areas in Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Agus said the illegal timber smuggling mode was carried out by mixing processed wood, namely from legal sources with illegal sources.
“In areas, for example in Maluku and Kalimantan, it is the mutation of wood that is usually entered from logs, which are round into blocks and components. Well, that’s usually a mixing opportunity. So, the opportunity for mixing it must be with the process of changing the shape of the wood. So, the mixing of illegal and legal wood occurs together with the process of changing the shape of the wood, because later it will be difficult to track it again,” said Agus Budi Purwanto.
Number of Independent Monitors Not Comparable to Forest Area
The number of independent forestry monitors, which is only 500, as well as law enforcement personnel in the forestry sector, amounting to around a thousand people, are deemed inadequate to supervise a very large forest area and thousands of industries.
Agus said that the difficulty of accessing data by independent forestry monitors at wood processing companies and government agencies has been an obstacle to monitoring so far.
In addition, according to Agus, reporting requirements from independent monitors for violations by companies must be evaluated by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and law enforcement officials, as a commitment to forest protection and preservation.
“With these limitations, we have to report to law enforcement with requirement which is detailed, there is evidence and so on, then what is our power? Don’t have that power. Precisely with the initial information key, we hope that Gakkum, then the certification body will follow up, go into it,” said Agus.
Wancino, an independent monitor from Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, experienced the difficulty of accessing data and locations suspected of being the site of illegal logging of forest timber. The practice of crime in the forestry sector, said Wancino, is open and there is no real action to stop it. Meanwhile, the monitoring carried out by independent observers with indigenous peoples has actually faced intimidation and terror from unscrupulous officers and the company.
“The main guard is the real community, to protect this forest. However, so far they have been intimidated, terrorized, by the company and the police. But the existence of this SVLK policy has become a bright spot for indigenous peoples that they can contribute to forest governance, and protect forests,” said Wancino.
Despite facing obstacles in reporting and taking action in the field, Wancino believes that the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK) together with monitoring carried out by the community is a good governance scheme in ensuring the forest is maintained and sustainable.
“Our hope is that in the future, the government will work together. From below, let’s take care of the forest together, so we don’t play around with the rules to destroy the forest, either at the district, provincial or court level,” said Wancino.
“If we work together, I think our forests will be preserved, and for future generations it will remain intact. So we don’t leave an unhealthy environment, because of disasters, floods, forest fires, one of which is because we ourselves are not aware that we have spent our forests in inappropriate ways,” he explained.
The National Dynamist of the Independent Forestry Monitoring Network (JPIK), Muhammad Ichwan, asked the government to continue to maintain its commitment to reducing the rate of deforestation and forest degradation in accordance with the Paris agreement. Ichwan also urged the government to immediately extend the moratorium on permits for palm oil in forest areas, as a form of commitment to reduce the rate of deforestation.
“We urge the government to continue to commit to immediately reduce the rate of deforestation, even though in fact as of March 2021 yesterday the rate of deforestation decreased, only 145,000 H, which the government claims,” he said.
“But if we look at the field, it’s still a lot of clearing of forest areas, outside for forestry functions, both for land clearing palm oil, be it for mining needs, for other non-forestry activities that affect forest cover. Well, in the end, there is deforestation,” Ichwan exclaimed. [pr/em]