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NGO victory signals greater transparency in Indonesia’s forests

Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has been forced to release information about commercial forest activities, following a six-month trial brought by the NGO Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI). The ruling, handed down by the country’s “Central Information Commission,” requires the ministry to provide details about logging permits and commercial logging plans. FWI successfully argued that the information must be public so that people can distinguish between legal and illegal activities in the forest.

FWI is a member of JPIK, a network of independent forestry observers who monitor the implementation of Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system (called the SVLK) which, along with civil society independent monitoring of the system’s implementation, are core elements of the Indonesia/EU FLEGT VPA.

Indonesia is currently struggling to make the SVLK fully operational, in order to get ‘green lane’ access to EU markets via FLEGT licenses. Challenges remain: last year JPIK revealed weaknesses in the SVLK and called for improvements. Also, in 2012, Indonesia’s respected Corruption Eradication Committee declared the Forestry Ministry (now part of the Environment and Forest Ministry) the country’s most corrupt ministry. Indonesia aims to become the first country to issue FLEGT licenses, but without improvements in governance, including transparency, and without JPIK's approval that the SVLK is working properly, this will be impossible.

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