There is another new acronym out there to learn: SVLK. It is part of a whole family of acronyms: TLAS, VPA, FLEGT. We've talked about VPA and FLEGT before.  

SVLK is short for the "Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu," or in English, the Indonesian Timber Legality Assurance System, also known as the Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS). The new Indonesian legality regulation currently covers 26 products defined by their HS Codes with a further 14 products to be included in January 2014. This means that when you're asking a company for their legality certification, be sure to get a copy of their Appendix details as well, which will help define products and species covered.

Exporters are required to have SVLK certification, and the governments of Europe and Japan are generally recognizing that certification as evidence of legality. This certification is likely to be recognized by Australia, too, as they work on their new legality regulations, and it will definitely be a factor for showing Lacey due diligence as well. Going beyond legality, SVLK is also designed to promote the country's commitment to practice Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).  

The new system is mandatory for all producers. It creates a chain of custody process designed to ensure the processing mills only use timber from legal sources, and that all products exported from the country are traceable to verifiable points of origin. It goes right to the point of harvest. For the long term, the Indonesian government has stated that it is trying to create a system of government controlled warehousing of logs and timber that will provide a resource for the secondary producers.

Certification is provided by auditing agencies accredited by the National Accreditation Committee (KAN) and independently monitored by the Forestry Independent Monitoring Network, which consists of civil society and forestry industry experts.

For more information, here are some links:

If you can get past the talking tree trunk (advance to around the 7th minute), there is some useful information in this YouTube video.

Some concerns are here.

Reviewing the actual details of the new Indonesian regulations did give me one of my favorite sentences I've read in a while. "Assessment of performance and timber legality verification on the holder of IUPHHK, IPK, IUIPHHK, and Advanced IUI is to be carried out by the LP&VI."

Wow.

But hey, if you can get past all the acronyms, the bottom line is that this is good news for the Indonesian forest and for all importers of such products.

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")