JAKARTA (JP): Analysts stressed on Monday the need for the country's forestry-related companies to speed up the adoption of ecolabeling in orderto maintain their export market and ensure the sustainability of forest resources.
World Wide Fund for Nature's executive director Agus Purnomo said most importers and consumers in developed countries demanded that timber products be derived from sustainably managed forests.
"The market mechanism will promote the adoption of ecolabeling," he said in a one-day seminar held by the WWF.
Purnomo added the international market would select timber companies which fulfilled ecological standards, but shun those which damaged forest resources.
"The requirement of ecolabeling will promote sustainable forest management," he said.
According to the International Tropical Timber Organization, ecolabeling will become a prerequisite for tropical timber producers to gain access to international markets, especially in the United States and Europe, after 2000.
WWF's deputy director Togu Manurung said many businesspeople believed theadoption of ecolabeling would pose additional problems to timber firms which were suffering from an acute shortage of logs.
Manurung noted figures from the forestry ministry showing the wood processing industry's total installed capacity was 60 million cubic meters,while sustainable harvests of forests in the country could produce only 20 million cubic meters of wood.
"The severe shortage has prompted illegal logging even in conservation areas," he added.
WWF estimated the rate of illegal forest clearing at 2.4 million hectaresannually, up from 900,000 hectares in the late 1980s.
An executive of the Indonesian Ecolabeling Agency, Hariadi Kartodihardjo,told the seminar that only one of 16 timber companies audited by the agencyobtained certification, but three more would receive it in the near future. He cited mismanagement in the national forestry sector, saying the touting of the country's huge amount of forest resources led to wasteful exploitation.
"The ecolabeling should be promoted as a means of further developing the timber industry through sustainable resource management."
He said the imposition of ecolabeling would also make the supervision andmonitoring of forest management more transparent.
However, he added that the government should pioneer the adoption of ecolabeling.
"Without political will, the government is unlikely to make any progress in this matter."
The Indonesian Plywood Association requested a clear standard on ecolabeling certification by taking into account the diverse forest conditions and different interpretations on sustainable forest management.
Ideally, the association said in a presentation at the seminar, the standard should meet two requirements of being applicable to specific localforestry conditions and acceptable to the international market.
It said since the ISO 14001 standard on environmental management already encompassed sustainable forest management as well as production stages, thecertification should also be classified as green labeling (ecolabeling).
The association argued that different ecological standards would only addto production costs, in addition to the complex process of certifying firms. (06)