Timber Transformer  


Where once ‘sustainability’ simply expressed a general desire to take care of the environment, contemporary sustainability strategies and policies take account of a more complex ecology – effective environmental strategies must also be effective socially and economically to be sustainable.

Forest management as promoted by the Association of Indonesian Forest Concessionaries aims to guarantee the forest’s sustainable economic, social and environmental purpose. Legal logging as part of the sustainability strategy will help reduce carbon emissions from wanton forest degradation and will enhance forest carbon stock. Where the ecosystem has been restored, there is the maintenance and growth of biodiversity with species such as the rhinoceros hornbill, the agile gibbon and the slow loris beginning to thrive again. In order to encourage sustainability, the forest area in Indonesia is divided up between 18% devoted to conservation, 25% that’s protected and 57% to production. 

Sustainability is also enhanced through the promotion of silviculture. There are many different types of silviculture using different methods of tree cutting – selective cutting, clear cutting, strip cutting – but they are all practised with a view to tending forest rather than seeing it simply as a material resource. Silviculture is a regenerative practice of forest management.

Under the SVLK, state forests are certified against the Sustainable Forest Management Certificate/Sertifikat Pengelolaan Hutan Produksi Lestari (PHPL). PHPL sets out key preconditions for sustainability under SVLK, focusing on the social, production and ecological aspects of forest management. This includes long term forest plans for harvest and regeneration and implementation of protected zones for species and habitats. Social aspects include conflict resolution, labour rights and fair and equitable benefit distribution.

Image caption: The cycle of social forestry begins with seeds placed in gel, grown into saplings within  a nursery.



As the industry expands through regulated and managed logging, government revenue increases through taxation enabling investment in the wood products industry, which also drives the development of skilled labour. FLEGT also gives access to global markets and helps the economic development of the country as a whole.

For the economy to work for the benefit of everyone, there needs to be clarity and transparency around land ownership and rights for logging. Then there must be commitment to the monitoring of timber flow, from harvesting in the forest through production and to the ports for export.

With good regulation in place, the economy benefits in many ways: not just from the money that can be reinvested from the taxation of legal timber, or from the earnings going directly to the right communities, but also businesses who can invest in the production process and increased skills and capacity.

Image caption: The Government of Indonesia is committed to expand community-based forest management and has pledged a total of 12.7 million hectares for social forestry under community-based forest management.



A vital component of the FLEGT process in Indonesia is the role of social forestry. It operates on many levels. It tackles issues of landscape and ownership, better enables the skills and knowledge of local people and takes into account the different scales of community management. The Indonesian government established the Social Forestry Initiative, under which 12.7 million hectares of forests are allocated for community-based forest management. This ensures that indigenous communities have a stake in managing sustainable forests, whether that is in state, private or customary law forests. In many developing countries with large forests, official law can sometimes conflict with customary law that has developed within forestry communities over time. This Initiative helps balance those interests.

Social forestry involves accessing the knowledge and skills of local communities in overseeing the running of the forests. It reinforces 'Principle 22 of the United Nations’ 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: “Indigenous people and their communities and other local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognise and duly support their identity, culture and interests and enable their effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development.” The government gives support and incentives to customary law communities to manage their forests.

Image caption: The International Labour Office is working with the Indonesian Government to not only develop skills and training but build an economy based around a sustainable forestry workforce.