Ecolabel Certificate to Boost Furniture’s Marketability
Wood certification is now one of the main requirements for furniture export. Community forest in Wonogiri, Central Java and Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta is now capable of producing one of the certified raw materials.
Communities residing in the areas have practiced sustainable forest managament, and they produce certified wood.
During a visit by BBC, Siman – Head of Farmers Communication Forum in Selopuro Village, Batuwarno Subdistrict, Wonogiri District, Central Java – measures the teak tree grown on the land owned by Sutantini.
The 30 years old teak tree has a diameter of around 140 centimeters. It is one of the 30–50 years old teak trees planted by her late father, Sugio. Hundreds of teak seedlings also grow on the area.
Sutantini admits that she treats the trees as a saving for her familiy.
“Depends on what we need, the trees are just for urgent needs. If it is only for paying school fee, we can still use the money from other sources. If we need to spend money for something very important, then we will cut down the tree,” she said.
The traditional joglo house where she lives is also build from teak trees grown on her land. Several people also seen to walk down the village road carrying wood, woooden window and door frames. They were moving a traditional joglo house to a new location. Sigit Riyanto of Selopuro Village Farmers Communication Forum said that the habit of moving one house to another location can decrease the logging activities in the village’s community forest.
The community forest in Selopuro covers an area of 262.77 hectares, ranging from field, yard and plantation. Trees started to be planted in 1972 on villagers’ yard and then all the way down to their field.
Teak trees are grown among the scattered rocks are found in Selopuro village. The community forest management then received ecolabel certificate from PT Mutu Agung Lestari.
According to Siman – Head of Certified Farmers Communication Forum, the Indonesian Ecolabeling Institute certification scheme was developed in Indonesia with a system and standard to certify natural forest, plantation forest and community-based forest management.
The community forest in Selopuro village and its neighboring village Sumber Rejo obtained the certificate in 2004. The total forest size covers an area of 549.68 hectares.
“One thing that we observe is the water source. Before the forest was fully grown, we had to walk 1.5 km to fetch water. We no longer have to do it now. Therefore, empty land should be planted with trees,” said Siman.
After obtaining ecolabel certificate,the teak wood generated community the forest can reach higher market price and in the form of furniture it can be exported to European and USA markets.
Nevertheless, there is no overexploitation. As explained by Surtantini, farmers are required to plant new trees to replace the cut down tree.
“To maintain forest sustainability, whenever a tree is felled, ten new trees must be planted,” she said. Apart from maintaining forest sustainability, around 8 villagers are also trained to produce furniture made of certified wood.
LEI’s chain of custody certification will ensure that the wood and non-wood materials are legally extracted only from sustainable community forests.
The director of PT Furni Jawa Lestari, Jajag Suryoputro explained the reason behind the use of wood products from certified community forests.
“Speaking of certified products made of certified wood, it should not be based on market drive. It should be promoted by wood suppliers because we are trying to save or maintain the sustainability of natural resources. The goal is to give an example to community members so that they do not perform random felling. There are consequences for every taken acts,” explained Jajag.
Furniture produced by PT. Furni Jawa Lestari is mainly exported to European countries. LEI-CoC identification is attached to the producs and their packages. Jajag said that to be able to use the logo, both the manufacturer and source of wood raw materials need to be certified.
“Many people take a shortcut by certifying only the manufacturer without thinking where the raw materials originated from. Our company is different. We believe that, eventhough ecolabel is still unknown in the market, it is a form of integrity performed by the Indonesian people,” said Jajag.
“We are open to audit. Anyone who buys our products are welcome to contact us. And by using the code attached to the products, buyers can trace the source of the wood materials,” he added.
Apart from Selopuro village, PT Furni Jawa Lestari also obtained certified wood from Wonosari, Gunung Kidul district, Yogyakarta Special Region, that is in Dengok Village, Playen Subdistrict.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Wana Manunggal Lestari Cooperative, Sugeng Suyono said that to facilitate the certification process , they perform an inventory activity by putting numbers on teak trees found in the community forest.
He said the community still experienced difficulties in marketing certified wood product because they had to sell to certified manufacturers.
Sugeng hopes the government can provide support the ecolabel certification and assist the communities managing the community forests.
Economic added value is one of the requirements for sustainable forest, as explained by Taryanto Wijaya of PERSEPSI — Association for Economic and Social Study and Development (Perhimpunan untuk Studi dan Pengembangan Ekonomi dan Sosial PERSEPSI).
“Certification can also serves as an investment to increase product competitiveness in global markets that demand for certified wood,” stated Taryanto.
The NGO assist the communities in Selopuro and Sumberrejo villages during the certification process. In 2006, EU imported around 30 millions m3 of wood and related products extracted from illegal sources. Almost up to one fifth of wood imported to the EU in 2006 was alleged to be extracted from illegal sources, with Rusia, Indonesia and China being the main suppliers.
Taryanto said, certification of wood extrected from community forest was very essential for the industry despite the fact that the government has not provided any supports yet.
“Community forests are relatively neglected. The Ministry of Forestry only deals with large forests. Therefore, we initiated real field recognition and efforts,” he said.
Government’s support for the certification of community forests are required to bring an added value for the community for the fact that the total area of community forests is more than 1.5 million hectares. [bbc]