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News and developments in International Forestry, timber and lumber

The Indonesian government is ready to sign the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade – Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA), with the European Union (EU) within the next two to three months, according to a joint statement. The Indonesian government noted that the VPA will be the first of its kind to be signed between an Asian country and the EU, with a significant implication for the US$1 billion annual timber trade between these two parties.

Disagreements hamper establishing legal framework for moratoriumLast year, the Indonesian president signed an agreement with the Norwegian government the purpose of which is to halt deforestation. One of the first steps Indonesia took on signing was to impose a moratorium on forest conversions from 2011 to 2013. However, disagreements between the Forestry Ministry and the newly established Presidential Taskforce on reducing deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) programmes has hampered the government’s efforts to implement a legal framework for the moratorium.

It appears that there are differences of opinion on which forests should be included in the moratorium and whether the new Taskforce should be given authority to oversee forest management — traditionally the domain of the Forestry Ministry.

Tropical Forests Conservation Act Agreement between Indonesia and US
Indonesia and the US have signed a Tropical Forests Conservation Act Agreement which includes a grant to improve forest management and protect biodiversity in Sumatra. The agreement is said to be an important part of the USIndonesia Comprehensive Partnership. The US$30 million grant will help to improve management of 1.3 million hectares of peatland and forests over a three year period.