Robbert Dekker, CEO, Dekker Hout, Netherlands

“Dekker Hout has a long heritage of doing things right. That includes providing assured legality – our customers shouldn’t expect anything less. So today we’re applying most of our environmental energies to achieving 100% sustainable sourcing, with the FSC being our preferred certification scheme.

“However, we still see Indonesia’s implementation of its EU FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and start of FLEGT licensing as a major advance, with benefits for its environmental credentials, the battle against illegal logging and EU companies’ legality assurance systems.

“Indonesian timber businesses, including our suppliers Intracawood and Kayu Lapis, should be proud of reaching this point. The scale and diversity of their industry made their VPA, including obligatory multi-stakeholder engagement, a challenge. It also represents a remarkable turnaround, given Indonesia’s previous poor governance standards.

“Initially we’ll continue to undertake our own checks back to concession on Indonesian imports. But as FLEGT licensing is proven, we may row back on this.

“We’re not specifically promoting products as FLEGT-licensed, but, in association with suppliers, will include information about it in business-to-business communications and social media.

“Being first to issue licences could also win Indonesia EU timber market share from suppliers with less effective legality assurance and that should encourage other countries to complete the FLEGT VPA processes.

“One concern is that EU trade and suppliers become disincentivised by the EUTR and FLEGT licensing to make the move to sustainable sourcing.

“So we believe the two should be wrapped together; with legality assurance presented as essential in itself, but also as a necessary step to certified sustainability.”

Bob Wani, Marketing Manager, Intracawood, Indonesia

“Intracawood has focused on balancing production and commercial interests with environmental and social obligations for some time. We have been independently certified for legality since 2008 and our forest concessions are FSC-certified.

“So we viewed meeting the demands of the SVLK legality assurance system and the FLEGT VPA process as underpinning what we do already and, as a large, well-resourced business, we did not find compliance difficult.

“However, we still see FLEGT licensing as an important development. It legitimises the Indonesian timber industry as a whole, including, importantly, small to medium sized enterprises. Stakeholders, from traders to local communities, NGOs, trade bodies and EU authorities, are also invested in the initiative and expect so much from it.

“It enhances our industry’s reputation too and will make selling to the EU easier, partly due to this, partly, of course, because FLEGT licences exempt products from due diligence under the EU Timber Regulation.

“Our first FLEGT-licensed goods were sold to our long-standing Netherlands-based import partner Dekker Hout, which is distributing them EU-wide.

“They included decking, fencing and other outdoor products in bangkirai and kempas.

“We communicated with them throughout our SVLK auditing and implementation of Indonesia’s FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement and they are now communicating the initiative to their customers.

“We also expect not only that EU buyers will give preference to FLEGT-licensed timber, but that licences will be accepted as evidence of legality under Australian and New Zealand market requirements and as contributory proof under US and Japanese regulations.”

Chris Sutton, Managing Director, Lathams LTD, UK

“Indonesia had illegality problems in the past, but we never walked away from suppliers there. Instead we backed them on achieving verifiable legality assurance.

“We’ve worked with PT Kutai, supplier of some of our first FLEGT-licensed products, for over 20 years. In partnership with them, plus Shaun Hannan, sales director of UK agents Pacific Rim Wood (PRW), we’ve helped them develop and promote products and vouch for their environmental credentials. That includes Flamebreak firedoor blanks, which were among our first FLEGTlicensed items.

“Kutai believes in innovation,including being at the forefront backing Indonesia’s FLEGT VPA implementation. They liaised on their audit under Indonesia’s SVLK legality assurance system and the VPA’s progress – and we’re delighted their ambition to complete it was achieved.

“Indonesia overall also deserves congratulations. For a tropical hardwood supplier with such a previously tarnished reputation, to be first on FLEGT licensing is huge.

“Illegally logged tropical hardwood has been our industry’s ‘bête noir’ and this step change gives buyers and customers real security. Indonesia also presents a model for other countries engaged in the FLEGT VPA initiative.

“We’re now letting customers know what progress this represents and how FLEGT licensing provides added comfort on legality. It would be a wasted opportunity otherwise – it’s a big story!

“And we envisage licensing increasing business with PT Kutai and our other Indonesian suppliers of marine and commercial plywood and decking.

“It’s simple. Indonesia makes great wood products and, if licensed, they’re now verified legal. Why wouldn’t discerning buyers want them?”

Tamano, Marketing Manager PT Kutai Timber, Indonesia

“The issue of the first FLEGT licences was an important moment in Indonesia’s timber trading relationship with the EU, which accounts for 25% of PT Kutai’s exports.

“It also reflected Indonesia’s commitment to legal, sustainable wood products.

“It should increase customer confidence in our products, boost exports and lead to improvements in Indonesian timber goods’ quality standards, helping satisfy customers on the wider world scene.

“The expected export increase will come partly from FLEGT licences giving Indonesia a green lane through the EU Timber Regulation, partly from giving us comparative market advantage as the first to issue them.

“PT Kutai was committed to supplying legal goods previously, implementing Indonesia’s SVLK legality assurance system in 2010. Now, under FLEGT licensing rules, all companies will apply the same legality standard.

“That should remove the notion that Indonesia is a source of illegal wood. We can now safely say that if timber is from Indonesia and licensed, it is legal.

“We kept in touch with EU customers throughout the FLEGT licensing process, including UK importer Lathams and agent Pacific Rim Wood, and they are informing their customers. The system is new, so the more communication the better.

“We think licensing will reduce our export administration and, while PT Kutai already offers FSC-certified timber products, believe FLEGT licensing will also be a step to sustainability certification [for others].

“Other countries will also now follow Indonesia in completing FLEGT VPA implementation due to the importance of the EU market, which is regarded as a standard setter for wood products and timber industry best practice.”